The Graduate Program in

Peter Alpert

Professor of Biology

B.A., Oxford University, 1974
M.A., Harvard University, 1977
Ph.D., Harvard University, 1982

Research Interests

My research has two foci, one basic and one applied. The focus of my basic research is on how the life forms and functions of plants enable them to survive and grow in specific habitats. To address this topic, I have worked on desiccation tolerance, the ability of some organisms to survive unmeasurably low water potentials; on physiological integration between connected plants within clones, including the ability to share resources such as mineral nutrients and photosynthates; and on invasion ecology, particularly environmental controls of invasibility. A current project is testing the combined influence of disturbance, nutrient availability, and relative timing of establishment on the invasion of a coastal grassland by non-native species, and on re-invasion by natives. The focus of my applied research is on the conservation of natural communities. My applied projects have included fellowships in conservation policy and public science education, and collaborations with conservation organizations on plant community inventory and restoration. During a two-year fellowship at the U.S. Agency for International Development, I concentrated on ways to combine biological conservation with local human community development in sub-Saharan Africa. In collaboration with The Nature Conservancy of California, Massachusetts, and Oregon, I have participated in the identification and inventory of coastal and riparian communities.