EVST191/FES691 – Trees: Environmental Biology & Global Significance

3 credits. The goal of this course is to expose students to the underlying principles that govern tree biology in both time and space. Students will learn the biophysics of energy balance, water transport, and gas exchange as we scale up from individual plant organs to the tree and forest canopy. We will also cover the principles of cells, membranes, and the fundamental differences between plant and animal cells. This framework will then allow us to move between different levels of organization to better understand regional and global patterns in forest dynamics, as well as the implications of disruptions in the biotic and abiotic environment. We will explore a range of case studies focused on understanding forests and forest products and their global significance. These topics will include (but are not limited to): the biological and economic impact of invasive species, habitat contraction resulting from climate change, phytoremediation, the role of wood in buildings and musical instruments, historical land use changes, and the biological limitations of tree age and size. 

FES652 – Wood: Structure & Function

3 credits. This course focuses on the extraordinary diversity of wood anatomy at the cellular level, and on the practice of dendrochronology that allows students to take advantage of predictable, inter-annual variability in tree growth to reconstruct environmental history. The primary focus of this course will be on common northeastern trees and other commercially important timber species. A primary goal of this course will be to participate in the development of a master tree-ring chronology for the School forests. A background in tree physiology and anatomy, and basic statistics is strongly recommended. 

FES679 – Plant Ecophysiology

This course focuses on the physiological ecology of plants and their interaction with the biotic and abiotic environment, understood through the lens of first principles. We use a quantitative approach to demonstrate the linkages between photosynthesis, growth, and carbon allocation at the tissue and whole plant level, which can then be scaled up to forests and ecosystems. We also focus on specific physiological and anatomical adaptations plants use to survive in the many varied habitats on Earth. The laboratory component of this course (F&ES 679L) involves the theory, programming, and deployment of micrometeorological equipment to monitor environmental conditions in the field; as well as methods for measuring photosynthesis and growth in the greenhouse and field. Enrollment limited to sixteen.

FES690 – Plant Hydraulics

3 credits. This course explores the fundamental principles of plant water transport and utilization, scaling from the molecule to the forest canopy at each step along the soil-plant-air continuum. We specifically focus on the relationships between plant structure and function related to water transport, as well as the anatomical and physiological adaptations that have allowed plants to colonize nearly every ecosystem on the planet. Students gain a thorough understanding of the biophysical and anatomical principles of plant water use, exposure to field and laboratory techniques used to measure these processes, and a contextual perspective that highlights the ecological and evolutionary implications of past and future climate change.