J. Patrick Megonigal

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
P.O. Box 28
Edgewater, MD 21037-0028
voice: (443) 482-2346
e-mail: megonigalp@si.edu
Megonigal cv pdf file


Research Biogeochemist. Expertise in Ecosystem Ecology, Biogeochemical Cycling, Microbial Ecology, Soil Ecology, and Global Change Science.


2010 - present Deputy Director, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, MD
2000 - present Senior Scientist, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, MD
1996 - 2000 Assistant Professor of Biology, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
1985 - 1990 Research Associate, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Aiken, SC


2000 - present George Mason University, Biology Department
2004 - present University of Maryland, MEES Program

Professional Preparation†

Old Dominion University Biology B.S. 1982
Old Dominion University Ecosystem Ecology
(Chair: Frank Day, Jr.)
M.S. 1986
Duke University Biogeochemistry
(Chair: Bill Schlesinger)
Ph.D. 1996

†No Postdoctoral Institution

Awards & Fellowships

2009 Smithsonian Institution Secretary’s Research Prize
2009 Outstanding Achievement Award, Renewable Natural Resources Foundation
2009 Merit Award, Soil and Water Conservation Society
2008  Presidential Citation of the Soil Science Society of America
1996 Smithsonian Institution Post-Doctoral Fellowship (declined)
1993 NASA Climate Change Graduate Fellowship
1993 NSF Dissertation Improvement Grant

Active Grants:

2009 - 2013 US Geological Survey. Tidal Marsh Elevation Change in Response to Elevated Carbon Dioxide and Nitrogen Pollution.
 2010 - 2011 Smithsonian Marine Science Network. Genetic Constraints on Phragmites Australis Invasion in a Changing Environment.
2010 - 2015 National Science Foundation. LTREB: Twenty-three years of tidal marsh response to environmental change.
2010 - 2011 National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. Tidal Wetland Carbon Sequestration and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Model.
 2010 - 2011 Maryland Sea Grant College Program. Phragmites Australis Invasion at Elevated Atmospheric CO2: Implications for Tidal Marsh Vulnerability.
 2009 - 2011 National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Prescribed burns in the sustainable conservation and restoration of tidal marshes.
2008 - 2011 National Science Foundation. Why does the efficiency of methane production vary dramatically among wetlands?
2008 - 2012 Tulane University (on behalf of the Department of Energy-National Institute for Climate Change Research). Elevated CO2, Sea Level Rise and The Biotic Controls On Marsh Soil Elevation Change.

Journal and Book Publications (Past 3 Years)

  1. Dunbar, J, SA Eichorst, LV Gallegos-Graves, S Silva, G Xie, RD, Evans, BA Hungate, RB Jackson, JP Megonigal, CW Schadt, R Vilgalys, DR Zak, CR Kuske. (in review). Common bacterial responses in six ecosystems exposed to ten years of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide. Environmental Microbiology.
  2. Richter, D, SS Andrews, AR Bacon, S Billings, CA Cambardella, N Cavallaro, J DeMeester, AJ Franzluebbers, S Grandy, S Grunwald, J Gruver, AS Hartshorn, H Janzen, M Kramer, JK Ladha, K Lajtha, G Liles, D Markewitz, JP Megonigal, A Mermut, MA Mobley, C Rasmussen, CJ Richardson, DA Robinson, P Smith, C Stiles, RL Tate, A Thompson, AJ Tugel, H van Es, L West, S Wills, D Yaalon, T Zobeck (in press). Human-soil relations are changing rapidly: Proposals from SSSA’s new Cross-Division Work Group on Soil Change. Soil Science Society of America Journal.
  3. White, KP, Langley, JA, Cahoon, DR, Megonigal, JP (in review). Contrasting C3 and C4 root-shoot allocation responses to elevated CO2 and nitrogen: implications for tidal marsh elevation. Estuaries & Coasts, submitted Spring 2011.
  4. Weber, CF, DR Zak, BA Hungate, RB Jackson, R Vilgalys, RD Evans, SW Schadt, JP Megonigal and CR Kuske (in press). Responses of Soil Cellulolytic Fungal Communities to Elevated Atmospheric CO2 are Complex and Variable across Five Ecosystems. Environmental Microbiology.
  5. Dunbar, J, S Eichorst, LV Gallegos-Graves, S Silva, [others], CR Kuske1 (in review). Responsive bacterial taxa in six ecosystems exposed to ten years of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide.
  6. Duval, BD, P Dijkstra, SM Natali, JP Megonigal, MT Ketterer, BG Drake, MT Lerdau, G Gordon, AD Anbar, BA Hungate (2011). Plant-soil distribution of potentially toxic elements in response to elevated CO2. Environmental Science & Technology. doi: 10.1021/es102250u
  7. Tzortziou, M, PJ Neale, JP Megonigal, CL Pow, M Butterworth (2011) Spatial gradients in dissolved carbon due to tidal marsh outwelling into a Chesapeake Bay estuary. Marine Ecology Progress Series 426: 41-56. doi: 10.3354/meps09017
  8. Brantley, SL, JP Megonigal, FN Scatena, Z Balogh-Brunstad, RT Barnes, MA Bruns, P van Cappellen, K Dontsova, H Hartnett, T Hartshorn, A Heimsath, E Herndon, L Jin, CK Keller, JR Leake, WH McDowell, FC Meinzer, TJ Mozdzer, S Petsch, J Pett-Ridge, KS Pregitzer, P Raymond, CS Riebe, K Shumaker, A Sutton-Grier, R Walter, K Yoo. (2011) Twelve testable hypotheses on the geobiology of weathering. Geobiology. doi: 10.1111/j.1472-4669.2010.00264.x
  9. Sutton-Grier, AE, JK Keller, R Koch, C Gilmour and JP Megonigal. (2011). Electron donors and acceptors influence rates of decomposition in tidal marshes. Soil Biology and Biochemistry.
  10. Sutton-Grier, AS, JP Megonigal (2011). Plant species traits regulate methane production in freshwater wetland soils. Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 43: 413-420. doi: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2010.11.009
  11. Poffenbarger, HJ, BA Needelman, JP Megonigal (2011). Salinity influence on methane emissions from tidal marshes. Wetlands. doi: 10.1007/s13157-011-0197-0
  12. Langley, JA and JP Megonigal (2010). Ecosystem response to elevated CO2 limited by nitrogen-induced plant species shift. Nature 466: 96-99. doi: 10.1038/nature09176.
  13. Megonigal, JP, B Stauffer, S Starrs, P Pakarik, P Drohan, J Havlin (2010). "Dig It!": How an Exhibit Breathed Life into Soils Education. Soil Science Society of America Journal 74 (3): 706-716, doi:10.2136/sssaj2009.0409
  14. Drohan, PJ, JL Havlin, JP Megonigal, HH Cheng (2010). The "Dig It!" Smithsonian Soils Exhibition: Lessons Learned and Goals for the Future. Soil Science Society of America Journal 74 (3): 697-705, doi:10.2136/sssaj2009.0017.
  15. Rabenhorst, MC, JP Megonigal and JK Keller (2010). Synthetic iron oxides for documenting sulfide in marsh pore water. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 74(4). doi:10.2136/sssaj2009.0435
  16. Keller, JK, AA Wolf, PB Weisenhorn, BG Drake and JP Megonigal (2009). Elevated CO2 affects porewater chemistry in a brackish marsh. Biogeochemistry 96:101-117. DOI: 10.1007/s10533-009-9347-3
  17. Whigham, DF, JTA Verhoeven, V Samarkin, JP Megonigal (2009). Responses of Avicennia germinans (Black mangrove) and the soil microbial community to nitrogen addition in a hypersaline wetland. Estuaries and Coasts. 32: 926-936.
  18. Fierer, N., KM Carney, MC Horner-Devine and JP Megonigal (2009). The biogeography of ammonia-oxidizing bacterial communities in soil. Microbial Ecology. 58:435-445. DOI 10.1007/s00248-009-9517-9
  19. Keller, JK, PB Weisenhorn and JP Megonigal (2009). Humic acids as electron acceptors in wetland decomposition. Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 41: 1518-1522.
  20. McKinley, DC, JC Romero, BA Hungate, BG Drake and JP Megonigal (2009). Long-term CO2 enrichment alters deep soil N availability in a scrub-oak ecosystem. Global Change Biology.  doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2008.01836.x
  21. Megonigal, JP and SC Neubauer (2009). Biogeochemistry of tidal freshwater wetlands. Pages 535-563 in GME Perillo, E Wolanski, DR Cahoon, M Brinson (editors) Coastal Wetlands: An Integrated Ecosystem Approach. Elsevier, The Netherlands.
  22. Langley, JA, DC McKinley, AA Wolf, BA Hungate, BG Drake, JP Megonigal (2009). Priming depletes soil carbon and releases nitrogen in a scrub-oak ecosystem exposed to elevated CO2. Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 41: 54-60, doi:10.1016/j.soilbio.2008.09.016
  23. Neubauer, SC, D Emerson and JP Megonigal (2008). Microbial oxidation and reduction of iron in the root zone and influences on metal mobility. Pages 339-371 in A Violante, PM Huang, and GM Gadd (editors). Biophysico-Chemical Processes of Heavy Metals and Metalloids in Soil Environments. John Wiley & Sons, New Jersey, USA.
  24. Megonigal, JP (2008). Frontiers in Wetland Biogeochemistry. Archives of Agronomy and Soil Science 54(3): 237-238.
  25. Shufen, M, GW Luther, III, J Keller, AS Madison, E Metzger, JP Megonigal, D Emerson (2008). Solid-State Au/Hg Microelectrode for the Investigation of Fe and Mn Cycling in a Freshwater Wetland: Implications for Methane Production. Electroanalysis 20(3): 233-239.
  26. Megonigal, JP and AKT Guenther (2008). Methane emissions from upland forest soils and vegetation. Tree Physiology 28:491-498.
  27. Tzortziou, M, PJ Neale, CL Osburn, JP Megonigal, N Maie, and R Jaffé (2008). Tidal marshes as a source of optically and chemically distinctive colored dissolved organic matter in the Chesapeake Bay. Limnology and Oceanography. 53(1):148–159.

Current Synergistic Activities

  • Member: National Blue Ribbon Panel on Wetland Carbon Offsets
  • Member: U.S. National Committee for Soil Science of  the US National Academies
  • Curator of Dig It! The Secrets of Soils
  • Ecosystem Interactions Working Group of the US Global Change Research Program