Biogeochemistry

  • GCREW Chambers

    2 meter chambers at GCREW

  • Phragmites chambers GCREW

    Phragmites chambers at GCREW

  • Marsh Vegetation

    Plant Biodiversity in Marshes

The Biogeochemistry Lab studies element cycles to understand how ecosystems respond to global-scale changes such as sea level rise, warming, elevated carbon dioxide, nitrogen pollution and invasive species.

Our holistic approach integrates the responses of both plants and microbes, the two dominant life forms regulating the capture and release of energy in organic compounds.

We operate the Smithsonian's Global Change Research Wetland, and NSF-LTREB facility dedicated to unraveling the complex ecological processes that confer stability on coastal marshes as they respond to global environmental change. Other research themes include methane emissions from wetlands and upland forests, and carbon sequestration in blue carbon ecosystems.

SERC and international collaborators publish on wetland carbon storage in Nature

The Biogeochemistry lab's Patrick Megonigal and James Holmquist were co-authors on a recent global synthesis of carbon storage in coastal wetlands. They demonstrate that wetlands experiencing rapid sea level rise store more carbon than wetlands under stable sea level conditions, suggesting a mitigation effect coastal wetlands have on global environmental change. Read a BBC news article on this paper here.

SERC Shorelines Blog
Rethinking Carbon [article]

NPR Boston
"Smithsonian: New England marshes may perform better under pressure" [sound below]

BBC
"Wetland mud is 'secret weapon' against climate change" [article]

Smithsonian Magazine
"For World's Wetlands, It May Be Sink or Swim. Here's Why It Matters" [article]

Bay Weekly
"Life in the Jungle" [article]

Bryn Mawr News
"Super Weed" Yields Research and Awarding-Winning Student Presentations  [article]

WAMU 88.5/NPR-DC
"Humans Doing More Harm Than Good in Protecting Wetlands from Rising Water" [radio]

Maryland Sea Grant
"Marshes in a Changing World" [Part I] [Part II]

WYPR 88.1/NPR-Baltimore
"The Jekyll and Hyde of the Marsh" [radio]

Environmental engineer Gary Peresta has an important public service announcement.

Wetland carbon storage controlled by millennial-scale variation in relative sea-level rise. Nature. 
[Full article]

Tidal wetland stability in the face of human impacts and sea-level rise. Nature. 
[Full article]

Direct and indirect effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 on net ecosystem production in a Chesapake Bay tidal wetland. Global Change Biology. 
[PDF]

Tidal marsh plant responses to elevated CO2, nitrogen fertilization, and sea level rise. Global Change Biology. 
[PDF]

Jack-And-Master Trait Responses to Elevated CO2 and N: A Comparison of Native and Introduced Phragmites australis.PLoS One. 
[PDF]

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