Curtis J. Richardson


John O. Blackburn Distinguished Professor

Curtis J. Richardson is Professor of Resource Ecology and founding Director of the Duke University Wetland Center in the Nicholas School of the Environment. Dr. Richardson earned his degrees from the State University of New York and the University of Tennessee.

His research interests in applied ecology focus on long-term ecosystem response to large-scale perturbations such as climate change, toxic materials, trace metals, flooding, or nutrient additions. He has specific interests in phosphorus nutrient dynamics in wetlands and the effects of environmental stress on plant communities and ecosystem functions and services. The objectives of his research are to utilize ecological principles to develop new approaches to environmental problem solving. The goal of his research is to provide predictive models and approaches to aid in the management of ecosystems.

Recent research activities: 1) wetland restoration of plant communities and its effects on regional water quality and nutrient biogeochemical cycles, 2) the development of ecosystem metrics as indices of wetland restoration success, 3) the effects of nanomaterial on wetland and stream ecosystem processes, 4) the development of ecological thresholds along environmental gradients, 5) wetland development trends and restoration in coastal southeastern United States, 6) the development of an outdoor wetland and stream research and teaching laboratory on Duke Forest, 7) differential nutrient limitation (DNL) as a mechanism to overcome N or P limitations across trophic levels in wetland ecosystems, and 8) carbon sequestration in coastal North Carolina pocosins.

Richardson oversees the main analytical lab in NSOE, which is open to students and faculty. Dr. Richardson has been listed in Who's Who in Science™ annually since 1989 and was elected President of the Society of Wetland Scientists in 1987-88. He has served on many editorial review committees for peer-reviewed scientific journals, and he is a past Chair of the Nicholas School Division of Environmental Sciences and Policy. Dr. Richardson is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society of Wetland Scientists, and the Soil Science Society of America.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • John O. Blackburn Distinguished Professor
  • Professor with Tenure

Contact Information

  • Office Location: A219a Lev Sci Res Ctr, Durham, NC 27708
  • Office Phone: (919) 613-8006


  • Ph.D. University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 1972
  • B.S. State University of New York, Cortland, 1966

Courses Taught

  • ENVIRON 593: Independent Studies and Projects
  • ENVIRON 792: Wetlands of Coastal North Carolina
  • ENVIRON 809: Wetland Restoration Ecology
  • ENVIRON 812: Wetlands Ecology and Management
  • ENVIRON 899: Master's Project
  • ENVIRON 999: Duke Environmental Leadership: Master's Project

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Flanagan, NE; Wang, H; Winton, S; Richardson, CJ, Low-severity fire as a mechanism of organic matter protection in global peatlands: Thermal alteration slows decomposition., Global Change Biology, vol 26 no. 7 (2020), pp. 3930-3946 [10.1111/gcb.15102] [abs].
  • Flanagan, N; Winton, S; Wang, H; Richardson, C, Data from: Low-severity fire as a mechanism of organic matter protection in global peatlands: thermal alteration slows decomposition (2020) [10.7924/r4s46nm6p] [abs].
  • Bachand, PAM; Vaithiyanathan, P; Richardson, CJ, Phosphorous removal improvements and cost reductions leveraging cationic polymers and anionic polyacrylamides in Chemically Enhanced Treatment Wetland (CETW) systems, Ecological Engineering, vol 146 (2020) [10.1016/j.ecoleng.2020.105722] [abs].
  • Wang, H; River, M; Richardson, CJ, Does an ‘iron gate’ carbon preservation mechanism exist in organic–rich wetlands?, Soil Biology and Biochemistry, vol 135 (2019), pp. 48-50 [10.1016/j.soilbio.2019.04.011] [abs].
  • Bansal, S; Lishawa, SC; Newman, S; Tangen, BA; Wilcox, D; Albert, D; Anteau, MJ; Chimney, MJ; Cressey, RL; DeKeyser, E; Elgersma, KJ; Finkelstein, SA; Freeland, J; Grosshans, R; Klug, PE; Larkin, DJ; Lawrence, BA; Linz, G; Marburger, J; Noe, G; Otto, C; Reo, N; Richards, J; Richardson, C; Rodgers, LR; Schrank, AJ; Svedarsky, D; Travis, S; Tuchman, N; Windham-Myers, L, Typha (Cattail) Invasion in North American Wetlands: Biology, Regional Problems, Impacts, Ecosystem Services, and Management, Wetlands, vol 39 no. 4 (2019), pp. 645-684 [10.1007/s13157-019-01174-7] [abs].