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., Biological&Biomedical Sci.Rel., Amherst College

Courses Taught

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

Selected Publications

Rodríguez-Cardona, B. M., Coble, A. A., Wymore, A. S., Kolosov, R., Podgorski, D. C., Zito, P., . . . McDowell, W. H. (2020). Wildfires lead to decreased carbon and increased nitrogen concentrations in upland arctic streams. Scientific Reports, 10(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-020-65520-0

Shanley, J. B., Marvin-DiPasquale, M., Lane, O., Arendt, W., Hall, S., & McDowell, W. H. (2020). Resolving a paradox—high mercury deposition, but low bioaccumulation in northeastern Puerto Rico. Ecotoxicology, 29(8), 1207-1220. doi:10.1007/s10646-019-02108-z

Gutiérrez-Fonseca, P. E., Ramírez, A., Pringle, C. M., Torres, P. J., McDowell, W. H., Covich, A., . . . Pérez-Reyes, O. (2020). When the rainforest dries: Drought effects on a montane tropical stream ecosystem in Puerto Rico. Freshwater Science, 39(2), 197-212. doi:10.1086/708808

Hogan, J. A., Feagin, R. A., Starr, G., Ross, M., Lin, T. -C., O’connell, C., . . . Patrick, C. J. (2020). A Research Framework to Integrate Cross-Ecosystem Responses to Tropical Cyclones. BioScience, 70(6), 477-489. doi:10.1093/biosci/biaa034

Dessu, S. B., Price, R. M., Kominoski, J. S., Davis, S. E., Wymore, A. S., McDowell, W. H., & Gaiser, E. E. (2020). Percentile-Range Indexed Mapping and Evaluation (PRIME): A new tool for long-term data discovery and application. Environmental Modelling & Software, 124, 104580. doi:10.1016/j.envsoft.2019.104580

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), 172-185. 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. (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. BioScience, 48(11), 921-934. doi:10.2307/1313296

Most Cited Publications