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Dr. Hafiz Maherali
Associate Professor

Dr. Hafiz Maherali


Office: SSC 1472
Ext: 52767
Lab: SSC 1409/1410
Ext: 56014

Maherali Lab


As an ecologist, my primary goal is to help explain the origin, maintenance and consequences of diversity in organismal form and function. I first became interested in the study of plant structure and function as an undergraduate at McGill University. My interests in physiological ecology led me to University of Illinois where I completed my doctoral dissertation on the hydraulic mechanisms enabling plants to occupy contrasting environments. During this time I began to appreciate the essential role of plants and plant communities in controlling key ecosystem functions such as energy flow and the cycling of matter. These studies motivated me to initiate work on the evolution of plant physiological diversity and its consequences for ecosystem functioning as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Duke University. I am continuing research in physiological, evolutionary and ecosystem ecology in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Guelph.


B.Sc. - McGill University
Ph.D. - University of Illinois


My research is focused on the evolution of plant physiology and its mechanistic links to the ecological functioning of populations, communities and ecosystems.  Current projects include studies of the ecological causes that drive the macro- and micro-evolution of drought adaptation mechanisms, the evolution of physiological mechanisms that mediate interactions between plants and organisms at other trophic levels, and the implications of functional trait diversity for community assembly and ecosystem function.  Because plant physiology directly affects the primary productivity of the earth and the cycling of nutrients and water, our work is increasingly focused on predicting how the course of physiological evolution will be affected by human influences on climate and the global transport of biota.

To do this work, we utilize a variety of tools and approaches, including molecular, quantitative genetic and phylogenetic methods, measurements of plant carbon, water and nutrient relations at different scales, as well as greenhouse, growth chamber and field experiments.

Further information on specific research projects can be found at my lab's research page.

Selected Publications

Maherali H., Sherrard M.E., Clifford M.H. & Latta R.G.  2008.  Leaf hydraulic conductivity and photosynthesis are genetically correlated in an annual grass.  New Phytologist, in press.

Suwa T. & Maherali H.  2008.  Effect of nutrient availability on the mechanisms of tolerance to herbivory in an annual grass Avena barbata (Poaceae).  American Journal of Botany, 95: 434-440.

Maherali H. & Klironomos J.N.  2007.  Influence of phylogeny on fungal community assembly and ecosystem functioning.  Science, 316: 1746-1748.

Sherrard M.E. & Maherali H.  2006.  The adaptive significance of drought escape in Avena barbata, an annual grass.  Evolution, 60: 2478-2489.

*Caruso C.M., *Maherali H. & Sherrard M.E.  2006.  Plasticity of physiology in Lobelia: testing for adaptation and constraint.  Evolution, 60: 980-990. *First authorship shared.

Maherali H., Moura C.F., Caldeira M.C., Willson C.J. & Jackson R.B.  2006.  Functional coordination between leaf gas exchange and vulnerability to xylem cavitation in temperate forest trees.  Plant, Cell and Environment, 29: 571-583.

*Caruso C.M., *Maherali H., Mikulyuk A., Carlson K. & Jackson R.B.  2005.  Genetic variance and covariance for physiological traits in Lobelia: are there constraints on adaptive evolution? Evolution, 59: 826-837. *First authorship shared.

Maherali H., Pockman W.T. & Jackson R.B.  2004.  Adaptive variation in the vulnerability of woody plants to xylem cavitation.  Ecology, 85: 2184-2199.

Maherali H., Johnson H.B. & Jackson R.B.  2003.  Stomatal sensitivity to vapour pressure difference over a subambient to elevated CO2 gradient in a C3/C4 grassland.  Plant, Cell and Environment, 26: 1297-1306.

Maherali H., Reid C.D., Johnson H.B., Polley H.W. & Jackson R.B.  2002.  Stomatal acclimation over a subambient to elevated CO2 gradient in a C3/C4 grassland.  Plant, Cell and Environment, 25: 557-566.

Gill R.A., Polley H.W., Johnson H.B., Anderson L.J., Maherali H. & Jackson R.B.  2002.  Nonlinear responses to past and future atmospheric CO2.  Nature, 417: 279-282.

Maherali H. & DeLucia E.H.  2001.  Influence of climate-driven shifts in biomass allocation on water transport and storage in ponderosa pine.  Oecologia, 129: 481-491.

A complete list of papers and pdf copies of reprints can be found at my lab's publications page


BIOL*1040 Introductory Biology II (Life in a Global Context section)
BIOL*2060 Ecology
BIOL*3010 Laboratory and Field Work in Ecology

Grad Students

Evan Pacey (PhD) - Co-advised with B. Husband
James Franklin (MSc)
Mackenzie Lauermeier (MSc)


Physiological & Ecosystem Ecology Lab