Graeme P. Berlyn

E. H. Harriman Professor of Forest Management and Physiology of Trees

Teaching Statement

I teach a four course sequence (anatomy of trees and forests; physiology of trees and forests; seminar in alpine, arctic, and boreal ecosystems; and research methods in anatomy and physiology of trees). These courses integrate plant morphology, anatomy, seed formation, seedling germination and establishment, root structure and function, wood and bark structure and formation, mineral nutrition, symbioses including nitrogen fixation and mycorrhizae, photosynthesis, respiration, water relations, physiological ecology, biometerology, silvics, fire ecology, carbon sequestration, and research methods such as microtechnique and cytochemistry, photosynthesis measurements, spectral reflectance analysis of leaves to determine levels of stress and plant health, chlorophyll fluorescence, water potential methods.  The individual species and their adaptations to the environment will be a primary focus.

Who Should Take These Courses

Many of the topics covered in this course can be found in Gifford Pinchot’s Primer of Forestry Part I. The Forest. 1899.  For over a hundred years foresters have required this information as part of their basic knowledge.  The importance of this information for intelligent forest management, urban forestry/arboriculture, and any land management is undiminished.  As Aldo Leopold noted in Sand County Almanac (1949), there are two kinds of foresters: type A is quite content to grow trees like cabbages with no ecological conscience while Group B prefers natural reproduction, seeks knowledge of all aspects of the forest, and understands that a healthy forest is one that can reproduce itself. If you had a heart problem and were referred to a heart specialist who told you that he really didn’t know where your heart was located,  how it functioned, or its structure, your confidence in his or her ability to operate on your heart would be nil.  Similarly, if you wish to solve problems about the sustainable management, silviculture, growth and health of forests it is useful to know how the trees of the forest are put together and how they function, grow, reproduce, and respond to stresses like global warming, insects, disease, and drought.

In 1913 our founding Director/Dean (1900-1911, 1923-1939), Henry Solon Graves, wrote “…the School consistently maintained its high technical requirements, because it was training men to develop forestry and not merely to fill certain positions that might be available”.  He also said, “…in building up the science of forestry and getting its principles in actual practice, Yale has a great opportunity and a great responsibility to serve the country. …The graduates of the School have become leaders because they have had a point of view and knowledge beyond that needed for every-day work which they first find to do.”  He envisioned that the dedicated students and faculty of the School would form an “irresistible educational force” to save and sustainably manage the Nation’s forests for fuel, lumber, watersheds, wildlife, and other forest products and services.  Our mission has expanded somewhat to include the air, water, climate, urban environments, and society, but the required dedication remains the same.  We hope you will embark on these studies with the consistent spirit, loyalty, and devotion that have characterized your predecessors at the Yale Forest School.