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ECU Ecologist’s Wetlands Research Featured in Major Science Publications


GREENVILLE, N.C. (June 19, 2013) — In recent weeks, research conducted by an East Carolina University professor has appeared in two major science publications. Dr. Marcelo Ardón-Sayao, assistant professor of ecology in the Department of Biology, has been studying soil and surface water runoff from natural and restored wetlands in North Carolina. Last week, Ardón’s research appeared in the journal Global Change Biology. This week, his research is being highlighted in the highly influential science journal, Nature.

Dr. Jeff McKinnon, chair of the Department of Biology in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, said Ardón’s research is directly relevant to the people of Eastern North Carolina, as well as having national and international implications.

"His work highlights the complexity of the effects of more frequent salt-water incursions due to droughts and sea-level rise on both natural and restored wetland ecosystems," said McKinnon.

Coastal freshwater wetlands diminish nitrogen delivery to sensitive coastal waters, but according to Ardón, increased salinity from droughts and sea-level rise may threaten this important service.

To test for salinity effects on nitrogen cycling, Ardón and collaborators from Duke University studied two natural and one restored coastal wetland in North Carolina over a period of five years.

Ardón’s research indicates the wetlands experienced episodes of increased surface water salinity due to droughts that occurred from 2007-2012.

"The increased salinity caused nitrogen release from all wetlands, with the highest releases in the restored wetland, potentially due to its fertilizer legacy from past agricultural use," said Ardón. "Our results suggest that increased salinity in coastal wetlands could lead to large nitrogen losses from freshwater wetlands worldwide."

For additional information, contact Ardón at 252-328-6307, or email him at ardonsayaom@ecu.edu. To read the summary written by Nature, go to http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v498/n7454/full/498274b.html. The abstract for Ardón’s paper may be viewed online at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.12287/abstract.

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Thomas Harriot College of Arts & Sciences
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