For this experiment, we hypothesized, that while both native and non-native species use solar tracking, the native species Lupulinus succulentus (bluebonnet) will solar track to increase light levels with low leaf temperatures; however, the non-native species Malva sylvestris (cheeseweed) will solar track to increase light levels with an elevated leaf temperature over the native species. Solar tracking was also hypothesized as a significant benefit to each plant species, thus we assumed that if a leaf was prevented from solar tracking that we would see a difference between the solar trackers and non-solar trackers of each species. We decided to use these two native and non-native species because both are found in the same area living together on campus and both use solar tracking. Each species light levels and temperature of the leaf were used to determine each species ability to capture sunlight and use it effectively, while also giving off a certain amount of heat measured in temperature; these were defined as factors affecting photosynthetically active radiation (PAR). From our statistical analysis using Student’s t-tests, we concluded that there is no significant difference between the native Lupulinus succulentus and the non-native Malva sylvestris for measurements in PAR parameters. However, we did determine in the overall data of Malva sylvestris that there was a significant difference in light reflected by the leaf between solar trackers and non-solar trackers with a significance level of 0.05, a p-value of 0.02652, and a sample size of 48, aiding to the idea that solar tracking ability does affect a plant’s light levels.
Maidlow, Kathryn and Scott, Logan, "Solar Tracking Fitness in Native Lupulinus succulentus vs. Non-Native Malva sylvestris" (2017). Pepperdine University, Featured Research. Paper 180.