Chase Mason

Chase MasonChase Mason

Putnam Fellow

1300 Centre Street
Boston, MA 02131
Phone: 617.384.5631
Fax: 617.384.6596


PhD Plant Biology, University of Georgia
BS Zoology, University of Florida

Research Interests

As a plant evolutionary ecophysiologist, I am principally interested in how key plant traits mediate adaptation to diverse environmental pressures. These include abiotic factors like climate and soil fertility, and biotic factors like herbivory and disease. All plants face physiological trade-offs between growth, defense, and reproduction, and I seek to understand the coordinated evolution of the traits that govern these three core functions.

Two major classes of traits that govern plant growth rate and the tolerance of biotic and abiotic stresses are leaf economic traits and leaf defenses. As a Putnam Fellow, I am studying the evolution of leaf physical and chemical defenses in relation to the leaf economics spectrum, leaf habit, and species’ source latitude and climate across 16 woody genera well-represented in the living collections of the Arnold Arboretum. As a huge common garden of thousands of species of temperate trees and shrubs, the Arboretum provides one of only a handful of locations worldwide in which this broad phylogenetic comparative work is possible.


  • Mason CM, Donovan LA (2015) Does investment in leaf defenses drive changes in leaf economic strategy? A focus on whole-plant ontogeny. Oecologia 177: 1053-1066.
  • Donovan LA, Mason CM, Bowsher AW, Goolsby EW, Ishibashi CDA (2014) Ecological and evolutionary lability of plant traits affecting carbon and nutrient cycling. Journal of Ecology 102: 302-314.
  • Brouillette LC, Mason CM, Shirk RY, Donovan LA (2014) Adaptive differentiation of traits related to resource use in a desert annual along a resource gradient. New Phytologist 201: 1316-1327.
  • Mason CM, McGaughey SE, Donovan LA (2013) Ontogeny strongly and differentially alters leaf economic and other key traits in three diverse Helianthus species. Journal of Experimental Botany 64: 4089-4099.
  • Sack L, Scoffoni C, John GP, Poorter H, Mason CM, Mendez-Alonzo R, Donovan LA (2013) How does leaf venation influence the leaf economic spectrum? Review and synthesis. Journal of Experimental Botany 64: 4053-4080.