William 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 watersheds. 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 and the Czech Republic. 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 EPA Clean Air Division, 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: Watershed Water Quality Mgt
  • NR 803: Watershed Water Quality Mgt
  • NR 947: Issues in Ecosystem Ecology

Selected Publications

McDowell, W. H., McDowell, W. G., Potter, J. D., & Ramírez, A. (2019). Nutrient export and elemental stoichiometry in an urban tropical river. Ecological Applications, 29(2), e01839. doi:10.1002/eap.1839

Wang, G., Wang, J., Xia, X., Zhang, L., Zhang, S., McDowell, W. H., & Hou, L. (2018). Nitrogen removal rates in a frigid high-altitude river estimated by measuring dissolved N2 and N2O. Science of The Total Environment, 645, 318-328. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.07.090

Marinos, R. E., Campbell, J. L., Driscoll, C. T., Likens, G. E., McDowell, W. H., Rosi, E. J., . . . Bernhardt, E. S. (2018). Give and Take: A Watershed Acid Rain Mitigation Experiment Increases Baseflow Nitrogen Retention but Increases Stormflow Nitrogen Export. Environmental Science & Technology, 52(22), 13155-13165. doi:10.1021/acs.est.8b03553

Gavin, A. L., Nelson, S. J., Klemmer, A. J., Fernandez, I. J., Strock, K. E., & McDowell, W. H. (2018). Acidification and Climate Linkages to Increased Dissolved Organic Carbon in High-Elevation Lakes. Water Resources Research, 54(8), 5376-5393. doi:10.1029/2017wr020963

Djukic, I., Kepfer-Rojas, S., Schmidt, I. K., Larsen, K. S., Beier, C., Berg, B., . . . Tóth, Z. (2018). Early stage litter decomposition across biomes. Science of The Total Environment, 628-629, 1369-1394. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.01.012

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