Larry Venable studies plant population and community dynamics and plant reproductive ecology. His work combines the collection of long-term ecological data with a diversity of more short-term focused approaches in attempt to gain synthetic insights in ecology. His work on desert annual plants attempts to build causal chains from environmental variation though biochemical, leaf level and whole plant functional traits to population and community dynamics. His interest in adaptation to variable environments lies in the interplay between bet-hedging, phenotypic plasticity and adaptive genetic change. His theoretical work on plant reproductive ecology deals with aspects of dormancy, dispersal, sex allocation, sexual system evolution, pollen evolution, seed size, hierarchical packaging of reproduction, and the evolution of inflorescence design. He is investigating the evolution of sexual systems in a speciose Mexican tree genus. He is also interested in seed biology from the standpoint of seed banks and germination strategies including seed heteromorphism.