William K. Smith

Professor and Charles H. Babcock Chair of Botany

B.S. San Diego State University (1967)
M.S. San Diego State University (1971)
Ph.D. University of California at Los Angeles (1977)

132 Winston Hall
(336) 758-5779

Go to my professional/lab page [link]

Areas of Interest

Plant Physiological Ecology and Environmental Biophysics; Photosynthesis, Water and Nutrient relations; Microclimate Measurements in the Field, Natural Isotopes


Plant adaptation to harsh or unusual environments; plant ecophysiology (temperature, water and carbon relations, water use efficiency); environmental biophysics ( microclimate effects on plant growth and distribution); structural/functional relationships of plant leaves; light absorption efficiency of plant crowns and canopies; spectral signatures of plant stress; radiation frosts, low temperature photoinhibition (including UV effects), mechanisms of UV absorption, eddy diffusion and stable isotope analysis of CO2 and H2O exchange from native and crop species, aerial sensing of spectral properties and CO2 exchange of plants.

Most Recent (2013) and Representative Publications

(undergraduates and graduate students in bold)

WK Smith. 2013. Review of Alpine Treelines: functional ecology of the global high elevation tree limits by Ch Körner. Ecology, in press.

G Wieser, F-K Holtmeier, and WK Smith. 2013. Treelines in a changing global environment. Springer, Ecological Series, in press.

WK Smith and ZC Berry. 2013. Sunflecks? Tree Physiology, in press.

ZC Berry and WK Smith. 2012. Cloud pattern and water relations in Picea rubens and Abies fraseri, southern Appalachian Mountains, USA. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 162: 27-34.

JR Reed and WK Smith. 2012. Stomatal frequency, distribution, and needle hydrophobicity in cloud forest spruce and fir, southern Appalachian Mountains, USA. Review of Undergraduate Research, 1045: 1-11.

NM Hughes, KO Burkey, J Cavender-Bares, WK Smith. 2012. Xanthophyll cycle pigment and antioxidant profiles of winter-red (anthocyanic) and winter-green (acyanic) angiosperm evergreen species Journal of Experimental Botany 63: 895-1905.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     H Joesting, M Sprague, and WK Smith. 2011. Seasonal and diurnal leaf orientation, bifacial sunlight incidence, and leaf structure in the sand dune herb Hydrocotyle bonariensis. Environmental and Experiment Botany 75: 195-203.

AM Williams, AM, RA Feagin, WK Smith, and NL Jackson. 2011. Ecosystem impacts of Hurricane Ike on Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula: Perspective of the Coastal Barrier Island Network (CBIN). Shore & Beach 77: 1-8.

RA Feagin, WK Smith, NP Psuty, DR Young, ML Martínez., GA Carter, KL Luca., JC Gibeaut., JN Gemma, and RE Koske. 2011. Barrier islands: Coupling anthropogenic stability with ecological sustainability. Journal of Coastal Research 26: 987-992.

NM Hughes, Reinhardt K, Gierardi A, Feild TS, and WK Smith. 2011. Association between winter anthocyanin production and drought stress in angiosperm evergreen species. Journal of Experimental Botany 61: 1699-1709.

K Reinhardt, WK Smith, and GC Carter. 2010. Clouds and cloud immersion alter photosynthetic light quality in a temperate mountain cloud forest.  Botany 88: 462-470.

NM Hughes, WK Smith, and KS Gould. 2010. Red (anthocyanic) leaf margins in Veronica spp. do not correspond to increased phenolic content. Annals of Botany 105: 647-654.

WK Smith and NM Hughes. 2009. Progress in coupling plant form and function. Castanea 74: 1-26 (invited review paper).

WK Smith, MJ Germino, DM Johnson, and K Reinhardt. 2009. The altitude of alpine treeline: a bellwether of climate change effects. Botanical Review 75: 163-190.

WK Smith and DM Johnson. 2009. Biophysical effects of altitude on plant gas exchange. In Perspectives in Biophysical Plant Ecophysiology.  Eds. E De la Barrera and WK Smith. UNAM, Morelia, Mexico.

DM Johnson and WK Smith. 2008. Cloud immersion alters microclimate, photosynthesis and water relations in Rhododendron catabiense and Abies fraseri seedlings in the southern Appalachian Mountains, USA. Tree Physiology 28: 385-392.

K Reinhardt and WK Smith. 2008. Impacts of cloud immersion on microclimate, photosynthesis and water relations on Abies fraseri (Pursh.) Poiret in a temperate mountain cloud forest. Oecologia 158: 229-238.

WK Smith. 2008. C4 leaf curling—coupling incident light, stomatal and photosynthetic asymmetries. New Phytologist 177: 5-8.

K Reinhardt and W. K. Smith. 2008. Leaf gas exchange of understory spruce-fir saplings in relict cloud forests, southern Appalachian Mountains, USA. Tree Physiology 28: 113-122.

WK Smith and DM Johnson. 2008. Biophysical effects of altitude on plant gas exchange. In Biophysical Plant Ecology: Perspectives and Trends. Eds. E. De la Barrera and W. K. Smith, 400p.

NM Hughes, CB Morley, and WK Smith. 2007. The coordination of anthocyanin decline and photosynthetic maturation in developing leaves of three deciduous tree species. New Phytologist 175: 675-685.

WK Smith, TM Vogelmann, C Critchley (Eds). 2004. Photosynthetic Adaptation: Chloroplast to Landscape. Springer, New York. 416 pp.

WK Smith, MJ Germino, and DM Johnson. 2003. Another perspective on the altitudinal occurrence of alpine treeline. Tree Physiology 23:1101-1112.

WK Smith, TC Vogelmann, DT Bell, EH DeLucia, and KA Shepherd. 1997. Leaf Form and Photosynthesis.  BioScience 47:785-793.

WK Smith and TM Hinckley. 1994. (Eds.)  Ecophysiology of Coniferous Forests.  Academic Press, New York. 386 pp.