Kathleen M. Pryer

Professor in the Department of Biology

358 Bio Sci Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Campus Box: 
Box 90338, Durham, NC 27708-0338
(919) 660-7380
My research focuses on understanding the evolutionary relationships of ancient land plants, especially ferns and horsetails, by integrating evidence from morphology, molecules (DNA sequence data from multiple genes), and the fossil record. I use an explicit phylogenetic framework to examine the morphological evolution of various sporophytic and gametophytic characters within vascular plants, and to gain insight into the evolution of various life history traits and the body plans that typify vascular plants. A phylogenetic perspective also informs my molecular evolutionary studies that attempt to elucidate why we observe remarkable rate heterogeneity in chloroplast genes in land plant phylogeny.


  • Ph.D., Duke University 1995

  • M.S., University of Guelph (Canada) 1981

  • B.S., McGill University (Canada) 1976

Korall, P, Schuettpelz, E, and Pryer, KM. "Abrupt deceleration of molecular evolution linked to the origin of arborescence in ferns." Evolution 64, no. 9 (September 2010): 2786-2792. Full Text

Beck, JB, Windham, MD, Yatskievych, G, and Pryer, KM. "A diploids-first approach to species delimitation and interpreting polyploid evolution in the fern genus astrolepis (pteridaceae)." Systematic Botany 35, no. 2 (April 1, 2010): 223-234. Full Text

Grusz, AL, Windham, MD, and Pryer, KM. "Deciphering the origins of apomictic polyploids in the Cheilanthes yavapensis complex (Pteridaceae)." Am J Bot 96, no. 9 (September 2009): 1636-1645. Full Text

Schuettpelz, E, and Pryer, KM. "Evidence for a Cenozoic radiation of ferns in an angiosperm-dominated canopy." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 106, no. 27 (July 2009): 11200-11205. Full Text

Schneider, H, Smith, AR, and Pryer, KM. "Is morphology really at odds with molecules in estimating fern phylogeny?." Systematic Botany 34, no. 3 (July 1, 2009): 455-475. Full Text

Pryer, KM, and Hearn, DJ. "Evolution of leaf form in marsileaceous ferns: evidence for heterochrony." Evolution 63, no. 2 (February 2009): 498-513. Full Text

Hennequin, S, Schuettpelz, E, Pryer, KM, Ebihara, A, and Dubuisson, JY. "Divergence times and the evolution of epiphytism in filmy ferns (Hymenophyllaceae) revisited." International Journal of Plant Sciences 169, no. 9 (November 1, 2008): 1278-1287. Full Text

Schuettpelz, E, Grusz, AL, Windham, MD, and Pryer, KM. "The utility of nuclear gapCp in resolving polyploid fern origins." Systematic Botany 33, no. 4 (October 1, 2008): 621-629. Full Text

Nagalingum, NS, Nowak, MD, and Pryer, KM. "Assessing phylogenetic relationships in extant heterosporous ferns (Salviniales), with a focus on Pilularia and Salvinia." Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 157, no. 4 (August 1, 2008): 673-685. Full Text

Rothfels, CJ, Windham, MD, Grusz, AL, Gastony, GJ, and Pryer, KM. "Toward a monophyletic Notholaena (Pteridaceae): Resolving patterns of evolutionary convergence in xeric-adapted ferns." Taxon 57, no. 3 (August 1, 2008): 712-724.