The TRACE ELEMENT lab studies the cycling and effects of trace elements in ecosystems, the effects of human activities on trace element concentrations and cycling, and means of ameliorating the consequences of human interference in trace element cycling.

Human activities, including agriculture, mining, refining, power generation, and waste handling can cause dramatic increases trace elements in a variety of environments, which can have acute or chronic harmful effects. The Trace Element Lab studies the processes by which trace elements move between different parts of the ecosystem (for example between water, sediment and organisms), and how the trace elements impact ecosystems, both through toxicity, and in some cases, as required micronutrients.

Much of the work of the Trace Element Lab concerns the movements and effects of trace elements in watersheds and estuaries impacted by human inputs. We have examined the flux of trace elements from watershed to estuaries in a large number of Chesapeake Bay and other coastal sites, and examined the uptake effects of trace elements on a variety of economically and ecologically important species.


Dr. Gerhardt Riedel
Scientist Emeritus

Smithsonian Environmental
Research Center

PO Box 28
Edgewater, Maryland 21037
Curriculum Vitae