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)


White JC and WK Smith. 2013. Water sources in riparian trees of the southern Appalachian foothills, USA: A preliminary study with stable isotope analysis. Riparian Ecology and Conservation 1:46-52. DOI:10.2478/remc-2013-0006

Berry, ZC, NM Hughes, WK Smith. 2013. Cloud immersion: an important water source for spruce and fir saplings in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Oecologia (published on-line Nov 26, 2013). DOI 10.1007/s00442-013-2770-0

Sanchez A,, NM Hughes, WK Smith. 2013.  Effects of cloud regime on daily and seasonal microclimate, photosynthesis and water relations in the alpine species, Caltha leptosepala and Arnica parryi, Medicine Bow Mountains, southeastern Wyoming, USA.

Smith WK, ZC Berry. 2013. Sunflecks? Tree Physiology, 33: 233-237. (Invited review)

Berry ZC, JC White, and WK Smith. 2013. Foliar uptake, carbon fluxes, and water status are affected by the timing of daily fog in saplings from a threatened cloud forest. Plant, Cell, & Environment, in review.

Jackson, NL, KF Nordstrom, RA Feagin, WK Smith. 2013. Coastal geomorphology and restoration. Geomorphology 199: 1-7. (Lead article, as well as an invited, organizing editor for this volume)

Smith WK. 2013. A unified paradigm for the climatic elevations of global treelines. Ecology 94:767-778. (invited book review)

Berry, ZC, WK Smith. 2013. Ecophysiological importance of cloud immersion in a relic spruce-fir forest at elevational limits, southern Appalachian Mountains, USA. Oecologia 173: 637-648. DOI 10.1007/s00442-013-2653-4

Sanchez A, JM. Posada, WK Smith. 2013. Dynamic cloud regimes, incident sunlight, and leaf temperatures in Espeletia grandiflora and Chusquea tessellata, two representative species of the Andean Páramo, Colombia. Artic, Antarctic, & Alpine, in press.

Sanchez A, NM Hughes, WK Smith. 2013. Water-use efficiency declines during autumn leaf senescence in three deciduous tree species, North Carolina piedmont, USA. International Journal of Plant Biology4: 16-23..

Berry ZC, WK Smith. 2013. Experimental cloud immersion and foliar water uptake in saplings of Abies fraseri and Picea rubensTreesStructure and Function 1-9 (DOI) 10.1007/s00468-013-0934-5

Sanchez A, WK Smith. 2013. Plant functional traits: Perspectives from a quantitative literature survey.Current Trends in Ecology 3: 25-51.  (Invited review)

Smith WK. A unified paradigm for the climatic elevations of global treelines. Ecology 94:767-778.

Reed JE, WK Smith. 2013. Stomatal frequency, distribution, and needle hydrophobicity in cloud forest spruce and fir, southern Appalachian Mountains, USA. Review of Undergraduate Research in Agricultural and Life Sciences (RURALS) 7:1-9. (Jennifer Reed, WFU undergraduate).

Wieser G, FK Holtmeier, WK Smith. 2012. Treelines in a changing global environment. Forest Ecology in a Climate-change Future. Springer, in press (Invited chapter, delayed from a promised 2012 publication date)

Carmichael,MJ, ES Bernhardt, SL Bräuer, and WK Smith. 2013. Conduits, stimulants and synthesizers: the role of vegetation in methane flux to the atmosphere. Biogeochemistry http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10533-014-9974-1