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Plant physiology explores plant functions and processes, the effects that plants have on their surroundings and the way plants react to their aquatic environments. Plant physiologists examine plant response to physical factors such as radiation (including light and ultraviolet radiation), temperature, fire, and wind. Of particular importance are water relations and the stress of drought or inundation, exchange of gases with the atmosphere, as well as the cycling of nutrients such as nitrogen and carbon. Plant physiologists also examine plant response to biological factors, including competition, herbivory, disease and parasitism, mutualism, and pollination.
At AWAE, plant physiology and atmospheric deposition are used to study air and water quality in high elevation natural ecosystems, and the impact of energy development on natural ecosystems. In addition, scientists are studying the physiology of tree species to determine their resistance and susceptibility to mountain pine beetle outbreaks and other similar pests. AWAE scientists actively involved in this research include: