Enrique Reyes

Enrique Reyes

Title: Professor
Area of Study: Ecology
Phone: 252-328-5778
Fax: 252-328-4178
Office: Howell S211
Address: Department of Biology
East Carolina University
Greenville, NC 27858

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Research Questions

Broad-scale human adaptation to climate change will become increasingly necessary in the coming decades, thus, it is critical that during this period of historically unprecedented ecological change, meaningful linkages across scientific and decision making arenas are developed to anticipate climate-related ecosystem changes and invest strategically to increase socio-ecological resilience.

I’m interested on marsh/wetland interactions with climate and with humans. In essence, 3 questions drive my research. (1) Where’s the challenge on watching plants grow? (2) What’s so special about coastal wetlands? And, (3) how the future of our coasts going to look like and why do we care? Before answering these questions, I’ll add that any of them can be focused using different lenses (where “lens” is scale: temporal, spatial and complexity). So I guess the answer depends on the glass we look through.

Enrique Reyes1

Research Program


Where’s the challenge on watching grass grow?
The large majority of marshes are monocotyledons, where the most common genus for salt marsh is Spartina sp. a “true” grass (Family: Poaceae). Plant biomass and productivity result from photosynthesis and its interaction of environmental drivers (light, nutrients, water availability). Our world is presenting rapid changes on these and other environmental drivers and we don’t know if and how plants will cope. The challenge: to understand and then predict how plants will respond to these changes. For answers to this question, we use a combination of field experiments using nutrient manipulations, lab work to measure carbon content and computational analyzes to examine grow trends and potential declines.


What’s so special about coastal wetlands?
Two things make these communities/habitats special: a) they are very productive and support lots of species that we like to eat; b) We like to use this areas for agriculture, landfills and places to put “marinas”. This conflict between wetlands doing good things for us versus doing things to wetlands that are good for us makes it evident on how special these areas are. Research questions on how coastal areas respond to diverse impacts, natural and man-made are addressed using simulation modeling. Our research of integrating landscape ecology to assess different approaches to coastal resource management has been based on leading and participating with several multidisciplinary teams for the development of these ecosystem models. Previous modeling efforts span from plant productivity, fish migration, medium-sized experiments, to landscape simulation focused on understanding processes in wetlands and tropical watersheds.


What’s the future of coastal wetlands is going to look like and why do we care? Changing climate will affect coastal communities in their growth, resislience and potential survival. These highly regarded natural areas are also at risk due to human population growth. We have several research projects to understand and predict how coastal wetlands will look like on time spans of 50 to 100 years into the future. We use regional landscape models to predict the distribution and adaptation of coastal habitats on different watersheds. Our results have the potential to be used for policy and planning development. I’m very interested on building groundwork for the development of integrated socio-ecological models focused on opportunities that meet coastal needs for climate-related decision, and support communication with coastal managers and policy makers for more extensive incorporation of human dimensions. Where are our projects? Research projects have included coastal North Carolina, estuaries and bays of Louisiana, models for the Virginia Coastal Reserve estuarine complex (an LTER site), the Everglades in Florida, Padilla Bay in Washington, Liberty Island on the San Jacinto Delta, California, and several coastal lagoons in the Mexican Caribbean.


Alcaraz C., Caiola N., Ibáñez C., Reyes E. In PRESS. Modelling management options for controlling the invasive zebra mussel in a Mediterranean reservoir. In "Progress in Ecological Modelling and Engineering of Lakes and Wetlands". Elsevier.

Reyes, E. 2013. Use of wetlands spatial models for sustainable development. Chap. 17. In: Yanez-Arancibia A., R. Davalos-Sotelo, J.W. Day and E. Reyes (eds.) "Ecological Dimensions for Sustainable Socio Economic Development". WIT Press, Southampton UK. ISBN: 978-1-84564-756-8.

Yanez-Arancibia, A., J.W. Day, E. Reyes. 2013. Understanding the coastal ecosystem-based management approach in the Gulf of Mexico. Journal of Coastal Research. SI:63, 243-262

Morris, J.T., J. Edwards, S. Crooks and E. Reyes. 2012. Assessment of carbon sequestration potential in coastal wetlands. Chap. 24. In: Lal, R. K. Lorenz, R.F.J. Huttl, B.U. Schneider, J. vBraun. "Recarbonization of the Biosphere – Ecosystems and the global carbon cycle". Springer. New York.

Reyes, E., K.A. Rose, D. Justic. 2012. Estuarine Ecological Modeling. In: Estuarine Ecology (2nd Edition). Day, J.W., W.M. Kemp, A. Yanez-Arancibia, B.C. Crump. (eds). John Willey, New York. 723 pages. ISBN: 978-0-471-75567-8.

Fagherazzi, S., S. Temmerman, J. van de Koppel, A. D’Alpaos, E. Reyes, C. Craft, J. Cluogh, J. Rybczyk, S. Mudd. 2012. Numerical models of salt marsh evolution: ecological and climatic factors. Submitted to: Reviews of Geophysics. 50, RG10002, doi:10.1029/2011RG000359.

McLeod, E., B. Poulter, J. Hinkel, E. Reyes, R. Salm. 2010. Sea level rise impact models and environmental conservation: A review of models and their applications. Ocean and Coastal Management. 53: 507-517.

Reyes E., 2009. Wetland Landscape Spatial Models. In: G.M.E. Perillo, E. Wolanski, D.R. Cahoon, M.M. Brinson, (eds.), Coastal Wetlands: An Integrated Ecosystem Approach. Elsevier, p. 885. ISBN: 978-0-444-53103-2.

Poulter, B., R.L. Feldman, M. Brinson, B. Horton, M. Orbach, S. Pearsall, E. Reyes, S. Riggs, J. Whitehead. 2009. Managing coastal systems for sea level rise: Coastal policy and research progress in North Carolina, USA. Ocean and Coastal Management. 52: 147-153

Course Taught:

BIOL4300 Ecosystems Ecology

BIOL4320 Ecological Responses to Global Climate Change

BIOL 6128 Systems Ecology.

BIOL7310 Ecological Simulation and Modeling

BIOL7320 Ecosystems of Coastal Cities.

BIOL7330 Ecological Dimensions of Coastal Zone Management.

International Certificate Courses in:

Ecología de Sistemas. Institut de Recerce I Tecnologia Agroalimentaries, Ecosistemes Aquàtics. Spain.

Ecology of Estuarine and Coastal Tropical Ecosystems. Inst. de Ecología, Mexico.

Ecologia Regional. Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, Mexico.

Laboratory Personnel

Graduate Students

Juan Calvo

Juan Calvo – Ph D. Student

Factors controlling water quality and vertical accretion on experimental constructed wetlands (Ebro Delta, Spain).

Calvo-Cubero, J., C. Ibanez, A. Rovira, P.J. Sharpe, E. Reyes. IN PRESS. Mineral versus organic contribution to vertical accretion and elevation change in restored marshes (ebro delta, Spain).Ecological Engineering.

Mark Wejrowski

Mark Wejrowski - MSc. Student

Response of a Spartina patens-dominated Oligohaline Marsh to Nitrogen Enrichment in Coastal North Carolina, USA. M.S. Biology. ECU.

Thesis defense: September 6th, 2013.

Traci Davis

Traci Davis – MSc. Student

Assessment of wetland accommodation space at the Virginia Coast Reserve (LTER).

Patricia Prado

Dr. Patricia Prado – Fulbright Visiting Scholar.

IRTA – Aquatic Ecosystems Division, Catalunia Spain.
Modeling trophic networks in coastal lagoons and rice fields subjected to contrasting levels of disturbance.

Prado, P., C. Ibanez, N. Caiola, E. Reyes. 2013. Evaluation of seasonal variability in the food-web properties of coastal lagoons subjected to contrasting salinity gradients using network analyses. Ecological Modelling. 265:180-193

Previous Collaborators

Chris Betancourt

Christopher Betancourt – Systems Administrator

Development of High Performance Computation Algorithms and Techniques for Spatial Modeling. M.S. Computer Science

Chase Crews

Chase Crews - Undergraduate Student

Determination of marsh benthic productivity under a fertilizer treatment

Ashlee Perkinson

Ashlee Perkinson - Undergraduate Student

Implications of climate change on vector-borne diseases for coastal North Carolina

Perkinson, A., E. Reyes. 2013. Use of ecological modeling for coastal management: potential of tropical disease migration as a consequence of climate change – The Dengue Case.Chap 11. Yanez-Arancibia, A., J.W. Day (Eds.) "Cambio Climatico: Dimension Ecologica y Socio Economica". Editorial AGT Editorial, SA. Mexico DF. 229-243.

Minerva Romero

Minerva Romero - Undergraduate Student

Rates of salt marsh biomass decomposition during the senescence season.

Janet Teran

Janet Teran – MSc. Student

Terán González, G.J., L.A. Ayala-Pérez, E. Reyes, M. Zetina. In Press. Modelo de simulación del aprovechamiento de los principales recursos pesqueros de la Reserva de la Biosfera Los Petenes, Campeche. Latin American Journal of Aquatic Research.

Brenda Vega

Brenda Vega – Ph D. Student

Modelo de simulación del aprovechamiento del sábalo (Megalops atlanticus Valenciennes in Cuvier and Valenciennes, 1847) en la pesca deportiva de Campeche, México.