I am a plant ecologist, with a special interest in restoration of subtidal and intertidal plant communities. I became interested in aquatic vegetation as an undergraduate student, working on a project to elucidate the causes of the decline of submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) in Chesapeake Bay. I continued working with SAV for my MS degree, examining interspecific competition between native species of SAV and an introduced species, Hydrilla verticillata. I concurrently worked on reintroduction of SAV to former habitat in the meso- and oligohaline portions of Chesapeake Bay, and to characterizing the water quality conducive to SAV growth and reestablishment in an estuarine environment.
My dissertation work was conducted on a large-scale restoration project in Chesapeake Bay, Poplar Island, where nutrient rich dredged material from the shipping channels in upper Chesapeake Bay is used to reestablish remote island habitat, including both upland and tidal marsh habitat. I examined the trajectory of vegetation development, elevation change and nutrient budgets of the restored tidal marshes. I am currently continuing this work, focusing on the effects of nutrient availability on plant establishment, vertical accretion, vegetation health and resilience to sea level rise in restored marshes, including living shorelines.
The common denominator in my work has been the role of nitrogen in aquatic plant ecology. I am most interested in how to build resilience into restored coastal habitats, given that most of these sites are impacted to some degree by eutrophication, and are also on the front lines of climate change and sea level rise. I am currently collaborating with others on biogeochemistry, restoration genetics, geomorphology, and the application of facilitation theory to vegetation establishment methods in tidal marsh restoration.
Areas of Expertise
- Environmental science
- Wetland ecology
- Restoration ecology
- B.S. St. Lawrence University
- M.S. University of Maryland, College Park
- Ph.D. University of Maryland, Center for Environmental Science