Melissa McCormick Liza McFarland Jay O'Neill Jitka Klimesova Dennis Whigham Ingrid Slette Eric Hazelton

AS PLANT ECOLOGISTS, WE ARE INTERESTED in the broad topic of how plants interact with other plants, with animals, and with the physical environment around them. We also strive to understand how these interactions affect ecological processes at multiple scales.Our efforts are evenly divided between terrestrial and wetland ecosystems, including linkages between them.



Dennis Whigham
Senior Botanist
Smithsonian Environmental
Research Center

PO Box 28
Edgewater, Maryland 21037
Phone: 443-482-2226
Fax: 443-482-2380
Curriculum Vitae



Research Highlights

Jon Bakker, associate professor in the School of Environmental and Forest Science at the University of Washington, joins the Lab as a Senior Fellow during his sabbatical for the next year. His research focus addresses applied and basic questions related to the restoration and management of terrestrial ecosystems. At SERC, Jon will study vegetation patterns in natural and restored freshwater wetlands to determine if changes in vegetation patterns are related to functional traits (i.e. life history characteristics such as growth and reproductive patterns) of the plant species.

Jitka Klimesova has joined the lab as a visiting Fulbright Scholar. Jitka and her family have travelled from the Czech Republic where she heads the Department of Plant Ecology at the Academy of Sciences in Trebon. The main objective of her stay at SERC is to develop a database of clonal traits for plants growing in disturbed areas (wetlands and forests) that are subject to invasion. Both of these systems are similar to the temperate zone in Central Europe and share similar plants, often the same genera and species, which will allow for comparisons of trait variability on both continents. 
Hope Brooks, an undergraduate student at Penn State University, joins the lab as an intern for Summer 2013. Hope is working to understand how invasive species spread by researching the expansion of the invasive wetland grass Phragmites australis through two watersheds, Parkers Creek and Battle Creek. Because researchers in the Plant Ecology and Molecular Ecology labs have found that P. australis spread depends strongly on receiving pollen from different genetic individuals, she is working to determine how far pollen and seeds disperse. In addition, she is studying the potential for hybridization between native and introduced P. australis.

Wes Hauser, an undergraduate student at Wabash College, joined the lab as an intern during the summer of 2013. He’ll be working on a relatively new project in the lab identifying and characterizing the types of endobacteria associated with the orchid/mycorrhiza symbiosis. Additionally, Wes aims to test whether or not these bacteria are required for successful orchid seed germination. In the fall, Wes plans to study abroad in Australia with the School for Field Studies, pursuing interests in rainforest ecology and ecosystem management.

Eric Hazelton, Ph.D. student at Utah State University, joined the Lab as part of the five-year, $5 million NOAA grant. Eric's focus on this project is the impact of Phragmites australis, an invasive species that threatens the sensitive coastal habitats in the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays. His project will include the impact of Phragmites removal on native vegetation and how land use patterns affect the likelihood for restoration success

     Small Whorled--Big Mission
The Lab has joined forces with the National Park Service and the US Military to evaluate a range of ecological characteristics of Isotria medeoloides (small whorled pogonia) to develop techniques to be used to manage and reintroduce this federally threatened orchid. details

ALIEN ALERT!!! update
Will this Asian invasive earthworm threaten SERC's forest?

Recent Publications

Ikegami, Makihiko, Whigham, Dennis F. and Werger, Marinus J. A. 2012. Effects of local density of clonal plants on their sexual and vegetative propagation strategies in a lattice structure model. Ecological Modelling, 234: 51-59. doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2012.03.026

Ma, Yini, Filley, Timothy R., Johnston, Cliff T., Crow, Susan E., Szlavecz, Katalin and McCormick, Melissa K. 2013. The combined controls of land use legacy and earthworm activity on soil organic matter chemistry and particle association during afforestation. Organic Geochemistry, 58: 56-68. doi:10.1016/j.orggeochem.2013.02.010

McCormick, Melissa K., Parker, Kenneth L., Szlavecz, Katalin and Whigham, Dennis F. 2013Native and exotic earthworms affect orchid seed loss. AoB Plants, doi:10.1093/aobpla/plt018

Swarth, Christopher W., Delgado, Patricia and Whigham, Dennis F. 2013. Vegetation Dynamics in a Tidal Freshwater Wetland: A Long-Term Study at Differing Scales. Estuaries and Coasts, 36(3): 59-574. doi:10.1007/s12237-012-9568-x

Szlavecz, Katalin, Pitz, Scott L., Bernard, Michael J., Xia, Lijun, O'Neill, John P., Chang, Chih-Han, McCormick, Melissa K. and Whigham, Dennis F. 2013. Manipulating earthworm abundance using electroshocking in deciduous forests. Pedobiologia, 56(1): 33-40. doi:10.1016/j.pedobi.2012.08.008