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Kevin T. Smith

Kevin T. Smith
Supervisory Plant Physiologist
Genetics, Biological Control, and Management of Invasive Species
271 Mast Road
Durham, NH 03824
United States
Current Research
My research is focused on the response of trees to injury, infection, and environmental change. Sources of injury may be obvious such as those from fire, storms, and human activity. Less obvious yet significant responses may come from perturbations in soil chemistry due to acid rain.

Current research examines:

  • the recovery of surviving trees following injury from fires, storms, and tree care practices,
  • the applicability and limitations of dendrochemistry to provide markers of environmental change, and
  • the role of the wood decay process to replenish essential elements to forest soils.
Past Research

Prislan, Peter; Gricar, Jozica; de Luis, Martin; Smith, Kevin T.; Cufar, Katarina. 2013. Phenological variation in xylem and phloem formation in Fagus sylvatica from two contrasting sites. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 180: 142-151.

Lawrence, G.B., Lapenis, A.G., Berggren, D., Aparin, B.F., Smith, K.T., Shortle, W.C., Bailey, S.W., Varlyquin, D., Babikov, B. 2005. Climate Dependency of Tree Growth Suppressed by Acid Deposition Effects on Soils in Northwest Russia. Environmental Science and Technology 39: 2004-2010.

Smith, K.T., K. Cufar, and T. Levanic. 1999. Temporal stability and dendroclimatology in silver fir and red spruce. Phyton 39: 117-122.

Bondietti, E.A., N. Momoshima, W.C. Shortle, and K.T. Smith. 1990. A historical perspective on divalent cation trends in red spruce stemwood and the hypothetical relationship to acidic deposition. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 20: 1850-1858.

Smith, K.T. and W.C. Shortle. 1990. IAA oxidase, peroxidase, and barrier zone formation in red maple. European Journal of Forest Pathology 20: 241-246.

Smith, K.T., C.W. Bacon, and E.S. Luttrell. 1985. Reciprocal translocation of carbohydrates between host and fungus in bahiagrass infected with Myriogenospora atramentosa. Phytopathology 75 (4): 407-411.

Smith, K.T., R.O. Blanchard, and W.C. Shortle. 1981. Postulated mechanism of biological control of decay fungi in red maple wounds treated with Trichoderma harzianum. Phytopathology 71 (5): 496-498.

Research Interest
  • Improve application of information in tree rings to better understand the impacts of land use, climate, and disturbance on trees.
  • Identify indicators of physiological processes that contribute to tree mortality or recovery after disturbance or injury.
  • Improve methods to communicate relevant science findings to practicing arborists, loggers, and foresters
Why This Research Is Important
Mechanical injury, subsequent infection, and environmental change are facts of life for wild, rural, and urban trees. Their impact depends on the diverse goals of forest management and wildlife conservation, high-quality wood products, or safe and healthy trees in our communities. Maximizing the benefits of trees for forests and communities requires understanding how those goals are linked to tree biology and responses to change.
  • University of Georgia, Department of Plant Pathology, Ph.D., Plant Pathology and Mycology, 1982
  • University of New Hampshire, Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, M.S., Botany and Plant Pathology, 1979
  • Connecticut College, Department of Botany, B.A., Botany, 1976
Professional Organizations
  • Editorial Board,  Les/Wood Journal,  2019 - Current
  • Member,  International Association of Wood Anatomists,  2016 - Current
  • Lifetime Member,  Tree-Ring Society,  1996 - Current
  • Editorial Board Member,  Biodeterioration Society,  1992 - Current
  • Member,  International Society of Arboriculture,  1990 - Current
Awards & Recognition
  • Forest Service Research & Development Award for Science Delivery, 2015
    This nationwide award recognizes Smith's contribution of ready to use science to traditional and non-traditional stakeholders in rural and urban communities.
  • NRS Science Delivery Award, 2015
    For providing “ready to use” science to traditional and non-traditional stakeholders in rural and urban communities.
  • Award for Arboricultural Research, 2014
    For outstanding contributions to research and knowledge of arboriculture, awarded by the Western Chapter--International Society of Arboriculture
  • NRS Distinguished Science Award, 2013
    For significant contributions and major impacts on fundamental research that links tree growth and wood decay to biogeochemical cycles and forest disturbance from fire, storms, and environmental pollution.
  • NICOLE Technology Award, 2012
    This award from the Network for Industrially Contaminated Land in Europe recognizes work by Smith and a European-based consortium for progress in determining the applicability and limitations of dendrochemistry for environmental assessment.
  • The Richard W. Harris award for excellence in education, 2011
    This award from the Western Chapter--International Society of Arboriculture recognizes Smith's contribution to environmental education for the tree care industry.
  • NRS Engaging Urban America Award, 2010
    This award from the Northern Research Station recognizes Smith's work to engage people in the care of urban and community trees through an enhanced understanding of how trees survive and thrive.
  • Honorary Life Membership, New Hampshire Arborists Association, 2007
    This award from the New Hampshire state-wide arborist association recognizes Smith's long term committment to proper tree care and education.
Featured Publications
Other Publications
Research Highlights

Scars Link Fire History to Tree Survival

Year: 2016
Fire scars contain dynamic changes in wood anatomy of three important western conifers. These changes reveal strategies for tree survival and may point to enhanced markers or proxies for fire history in the tree-ring record.

New Research Suggests Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 Have Reduced the Exposure of Tree Roots and Surface Water to Harmful Aluminum

Year: 2012
Wood decay fungi add humus to the forest floor with a high proportion of essential calcium and low amounts of potentially toxic aluminum, which are conditions found in favorable growing sites not affected by acid rain

Chemical Analysis of Precisely Dated Tree Rings Used in Environmental Forensics

Year: 2013
Dendrochemistry, the chemical analysis of precisely dated tree rings, provides a dynamic record of change for the landscape and within the living tree. A Forest Service scientist used dendrochemistry to answer a broad range of questions from the timing of releases of chemical pollutants for environm...

New Guide for Environmental Forensics

Year: 2015
Forensic investigation of chemical spills is aided by a new international guide for tree-ring chemistry. Northern Research Station scientists are part of international Pollution Investigation in Trees team.

Declining Acidic Deposition Begins Reversal of Forest-Soil Acidification

Year: 2016
How are forest soils recovering from acid rain? An international collaboration found improvements in soil quality that indicate recovery is on the way and elucidate important recovery mechanisms.