William H. McDowell


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.

Detailed Description of Research Projects


  • 1982 Ph.D. Aquatic Ecology, Cornell University
  • 1975 B.A. Biology, magna cum laude, Amherst College

Teaching Responsibilities

  • NR 703/803: Watershed Water Quality Management
  • NR 751/851: Aquatic Ecosystems
  • NR 947: Current Issues in Ecosystem Ecology

William McDowell

Professor, Environmental Science

Director, New Hampshire Water Resources Research Center

Presidential Chair Award


Selected Publications

Brokaw, N., T.A. Crowl, A.E. Lugo, W.H. McDowell, R.B. Waide and M.R. Willig (eds.).  Disturbance, response, and tropical forest dynamics:  Long-term perspectives and implications.  Oxford University Press, New York (in press).

Collins, S.L, S.R. Carpenter, S.M. Swinton, D.E. Orenstein, D.L. Childers, T.L. Gragson, N.B. Grimm, J.M. Grove8, S.L. Harlan, J.P. Kaye, A.K. Knapp, G.P. Kofinas, J. J. Magnuson, W.H. McDowell, J.M. Melack, L.A. Ogden, G. P. Robertson, M.D. Smith, A.C. Whitmer.  An integrated conceptual framework for long-term socialecological research.  Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment (in Press).

Cusack, D. F., W. L. Silver, and W. H. McDowell. 2010. Effects of chronic nitrogen additions on above- and belowground carbon dynamics in two tropical forests. Biogechemistry. DOI 10.1007/s10533-010-9496-4.

Hruška, J., P. Krám, W.H. McDowell, and F. Oulehle. 2009. Increased dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in Central European streams is driven by reductions in ionic strength rather that climate change or decreasing acidity.  Environmental Science and Technology 43:4320-4326.

Cusack, D.F., W. Silver, and W.H. McDowell. 2009. Biological nitrogen fixation in two tropical forests: ecosystem-level patterns and effects of nitrogen fertilization.   Ecosystems DOI: 10.1007/s10021-009-9290-0. 

Daley, M.L., J.D. Potter, and W.H. McDowell.  2009.  Salinization of urbanizing New Hampshire streams and groundwater: effects of road salt and hydrologic variability.  Journal of the North American Benthological Society 28:929-940.

McDowell, W. H. 2009. Ecology and Role of Headwater Streams. Ch. 54 in: Gene E. Likens, (Editor) Encyclopedia of Inland Waters. Volume 3, pp. 357-365.  Elsevier, Oxford, U.K.

Covich, A.P., T.A. Crowl, C.L. Hein, M.J. Townsend, and W.H. McDowell. 2009. Predator-prey interactions in river networks: Comparing shrimp spatial refugia in two drainage basins.  Freshwater Biology 54:450-465.

Oulehle, F., W.H. McDowell, J.A. Aitkenhead-Peterson, P. Krám, J. Hruška, T. Navrátil, F. Buzek, and D. Fottová. 2008. Long-term trends in stream nitrate concentrations and losses across watersheds undergoing recovery from acidification in the Czech Republic.  Ecosystems 11:410-425.

Selected Service Activities

  • University Academic Planning Committee
  • University Outreach and Engagement Advisory Board
  • Office of Sustainability Biodiversity Education Initiative
  • Member of Executive Committee, Biogeosciences Section, American Geophysical Union
  • Panel member, NSF DEB - Ecosystems Program
  • Member, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) working group on the role of freshwaters in the global carbon cycle
  • Fulbright Professor, Institute for Environmental Studies, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic (1995-1996)