Bill McDowell

Phone: (603) 862-2249
Office: Natural Resources & the Environment, James Hall Rm 170, Durham, NH 03824

Research in the McDowell lab focuses on understanding controls on biogeochemical cycles in streams, forests, and watersheds. Specifically, we study long-term changes in the water quality of forested, suburban, and urban watersheds in both temperate and tropical biomes. Our primary long-term study sites include the Lamprey River and other suburban watersheds in southern New Hampshire, the Luquillo Experimental Forest and urban sites in Puerto Rico, and forested watersheds in New England, the Czech Republic, and Siberia. Understanding the impact of people on water quality, especially impacts on the nitrogen cycle, is a long-term goal in many of our research projects. Primary funding comes from the National Science Foundation, the USGS, the USDA, and other Federal agencies.

Faculty Award Winner

Award Type:  Distinguished Professor
Year:  2017

Award Type:  Presidential Chair
Year:  2008


  • Ph.D., Ecology, Cornell University
  • B.A., Biology, Amherst College

Research Interests

  • Aquatic Ecosystem
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Environmental Sciences

Courses Taught

  • 703/803: Watershed Water Quality Mgt
  • 947: Ecosystem Science
  • NR 703/803: Watershed Water Quality Mgt
  • NR 795W: Inv/Watershed Management
  • NR 947: Ecosystem Science

Selected Publications

McDowell, W. H., & Potter, J. D. (2022). Context dependence in a tropical forest: Repeated disturbance reduces soil nitrate response but increases phosphate. ECOSPHERE, 13(6). doi:10.1002/ecs2.4068

McDowell, W. H. (2022). DOM in the long arc of environmental science: looking back and thinking ahead. BIOGEOCHEMISTRY. doi:10.1007/s10533-022-00924-w

Bomfim, B., Walker, A. P., McDowell, W. H., Zimmerman, J. K., Feng, Y., & Kueppers, L. M. (2022). Linking soil phosphorus with forest litterfall resistance and resilience to cyclone disturbance: A pantropical meta-analysis. GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY. doi:10.1111/gcb.16223

Clark, K. E., Stallard, R. F., Murphy, S. F., Scholl, M. A., Gonzalez, G., Plante, A. F., & McDowell, W. H. (2022). Extreme rainstorms drive exceptional organic carbon export from forested humid-tropical rivers in Puerto Rico. NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 13(1). doi:10.1038/s41467-022-29618-5

Patrick, C. J., Kominoski, J. S., McDowell, W. H., Branoff, B., Lagomasino, D., Leon, M., . . . Zou, X. (2022). A general pattern of trade-offs between ecosystem resistance and resilience to tropical cyclones. SCIENCE ADVANCES, 8(9). doi:10.1126/sciadv.abl9155

Cole, J. J., Prairie, Y. T., Caraco, N. F., McDowell, W. H., Tranvik, L. J., Striegl, R. G., . . . Melack, J. (2007). Plumbing the global carbon cycle: Integrating inland waters into the terrestrial carbon budget. ECOSYSTEMS, 10(1), 171-184. doi:10.1007/s10021-006-9013-8

Downing, J. A., Prairie, Y. T., Cole, J. J., Duarte, C. M., Tranvik, L. J., Striegl, R. G., . . . Middelburg, J. J. (2006). The global abundance and size distribution of lakes, ponds, and impoundments. LIMNOLOGY AND OCEANOGRAPHY, 51(5), 2388-2397. doi:10.4319/lo.2006.51.5.2388

McClain, M. E., Boyer, E. W., Dent, C. L., Gergel, S. E., Grimm, N. B., Groffman, P. M., . . . Pinay, G. (2003). Biogeochemical hot spots and hot moments at the interface of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. ECOSYSTEMS, 6(4), 301-312. doi:10.1007/s10021-003-0161-9

Peterson, B. J., Wollheim, W. M., Mulholland, P. J., Webster, J. R., Meyer, J. L., Tank, J. L., . . . Morrall, D. D. (2001). Control of nitrogen export from watersheds by headwater streams. SCIENCE, 292(5514), 86-90. doi:10.1126/science.1056874

Aber, J., McDowell, W., Nadelhoffer, K., Magill, A., Berntson, G., Kamakea, M., . . . Fernandez, I. (1998). Nitrogen saturation in temperate forest ecosystems - Hypotheses revisited. BIOSCIENCE, 48(11), 921-934. doi:10.2307/1313296

Most Cited Publications