Melissa McCormick Liza McFarland Jay O'Neill Jitka Klimesova Dennis Whigham Ingrid Slette Eric Hazelton
AS PLANT ECOLOGISTS, WE ARE INTERESTED in the broad topic of how plants interact with other plants, with animals, and with the physical environment around them. We also strive to understand how these interactions affect ecological processes at multiple scales.Our efforts are evenly divided between terrestrial and wetland ecosystems, including linkages between them.


 Dennis Whigham
Senior Botanist
Smithsonian Environmental
Research Center

PO Box 28
Edgewater, Maryland 21037
Phone: 443-482-2226
Fax: 443-482-2380
Curriculum Vitae



Research Highlights
Brianna Glase joins the Plant Ecology and Molecular Ecology labs as a summer intern this year. She is born and raised in Maryland and is currently studying Biology and English at St. Mary's College of Maryland. Her project will focus on examining the fungal diversity within SERC's extensive orchid fungi collection using molecular tools. She will use the information from the fungal collection to examine the presence of soil fungi in plots of the showy orchid (Galearis spectabilis) located in the woods at SERC to see whether the soil fungi is a determining factor for the historic distribution of this orchid.

Lada Klimesova, an undergraduate student at South Bohemia University in the Czech Republic, returns to the Plant Ecology and Molecular Ecology Lab for her second summer internship. Lada will investigate the federally threatened orchid Isotria medeoloides, including the presence and quantity of mycorrhizal fungi associated with this orchid in West Virginia. She will also continue her research at SERC’s BiodiversiTREE project. Lada will focus on whether mycorrhizal fungi can become established in an early successional forest and is the success of native orchids related to the tree species and characteristics of the soil.


Eric Hazelton, Ph.D. student at Utah State University, joined the Lab as part of the five-year, $5 million NOAA grant. Eric's focus on this project is the impact of Phragmites australis, an invasive species that threatens the sensitive coastal habitats in the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays. His project will include the impact of Phragmites removal on native vegetation and how land use patterns affect the likelihood for restoration success.

     Small Whorled--Big Mission
The Lab has joined forces with the National Park Service and the US Military to evaluate a range of ecological characteristics of Isotria medeoloides (small whorled pogonia) to develop techniques to be used to manage and reintroduce this federally threatened orchid. details

ALIEN ALERT!!! update
Will this Asian invasive earthworm threaten SERC's forest?

Recent Publications

Hazelton, Eric L. G., Mozdzer, Thomas J., Burdick, David, Kettenring, Karin M. and Whigham, Dennis. 2014. Phragmites australis Management in the United States: 40 years of methods and outcomes. AoB Plants, doi:10.1093/aobpla/plu001

Ma, Yini, Filley, Timothy R., Szlavecz, Katalin and McCormick, Melissa K. 2014. Controls on wood and leaf litter incorporation into soil fractions in forests at different successional stages. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 69: 212-222. doi:10.1016/j.soilbio.2013.10.043

McCormick, Melissa K. and Jacquemyn, Hans. 2014. What constrains the distribution of orchid populations? New Phytologist, 202(2): 392-400. doi:10.1111/nph.12639

Verhoeven, Jos T. A., Laanbroek, Hendrikus J., Rains, Mark C. and Whigham, Dennis F. 2014. Effects of increased summer flooding on nitrogen dynamics in impounded mangroves. Journal of Environmental Management, 139: 217-226.

Whigham, Dennis F., McCormick, Melissa K. and O'Neill, John P. 2014. Ongoing studies of Isotria medeoloides, Small Whorled Pogonia. Native Orchid Conference Journal, 11(4): 6-11.

Yepsen, Metthea, Baldwin, Andrew, Whigham, Dennis, McFarland, Eliza, LaForgia, Marina and Lang, Megan. 2014. Agricultural wetland restorations on the US Atlantic Coastal Plain achieve diverse native wetland communities but differ from natural wetlands. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 197:11-20.