Associate Professor of Plant Biology
Degrees: BS – University of Chicago, MS – Michigan State University, PhD – Oregon State University
Office: Boyd Science Center, Room 226
About Prof Pruyn:
I am a woody tree eco-physiologist researching the various controls of tree species distributions in the northern hardwood forest. Most recently, we are investigating the long term effects of acid rain on tree health and productivity. One of the residual effects of acid rain has left many of the soils in NH forests depleted in calcium. We have fertilized plots with calcium at three sites of varying soil-calcium availability within the White Mountain National forest and are measuring the response in the water transport capacity of three key northern hardwood species (i.e. American beech, sugar maple and yellow birch) as compared to the controls. Water transport serves as an effective proxy for carbon dioxide exchange, providing an indicator for tree productivity. I am also interested the physiological differences among tree species (especially yellow birch) along natural environmental gradients, such as elevation, aspect and changing soil characteristics. Defining such variation in tree response to the environment will help explain why trees grow where they do, improving forest management practices.
I also have experience in measuring respiration of components of individual trees and ecosystems (leaves, branches, stems and soils) with the objective of scaling to the whole tree and ecosystem level, respectively. A comprehensive understanding of carbon flow into and out of forest systems will enable us to determine whether systems are sources or a sinks for carbon dioxide and predict how those sources and sinks may change in the advent of climate change. I have also researched how trees respond to wind stress in terms of their anatomy, morphology and physiology with the application for managing hybrid tree plantations for a specific product, like paper. During my PhD, I studied forest science and wood science, so I have an understanding of applied aspects of forest ecology, such as modeling carbon flow from cradle to grave for a particular forest product. Another area of applied research that captures my attention is phytoremediation, which is the process by which plants remove various toxins from the environment. I also have an appreciation for ethnobotany and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and have been interested in pursuing research in those areas for some time.