Curtis J. Richardson


John O. Blackburn 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 Professor
  • Professor with Tenure
  • Chair of the Environmental Sciences and Policy Division

Contact Information

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


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

  • 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].
  • River, M; Richardson, CJ, Dissolved Reactive Phosphorus Loads to Western Lake Erie: The Hidden Influence of Nanoparticles., Journal of Environmental Quality, vol 48 no. 3 (2019), pp. 645-653 [10.2134/jeq2018.05.0178] [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 (2019) [10.1007/s13157-019-01174-7] [abs].
  • River, M; Richardson, CJ, Suspended Sediment Mineralogy and the Nature of Suspended Sediment Particles in Stormflow of the Southern Piedmont of the USA, Water Resources Research, vol 55 no. 7 (2019), pp. 5665-5678 [10.1029/2018WR024613] [abs].
  • Fargione, JE; Bassett, S; Boucher, T; Bridgham, SD; Conant, RT; Cook-Patton, SC; Ellis, PW; Falcucci, A; Fourqurean, JW; Gopalakrishna, T; Gu, H; Henderson, B; Hurteau, MD; Kroeger, KD; Kroeger, T; Lark, TJ; Leavitt, SM; Lomax, G; McDonald, RI; Megonigal, JP; Miteva, DA; Richardson, CJ; Sanderman, J; Shoch, D; Spawn, SA; Veldman, JW; Williams, CA; Woodbury, PB; Zganjar, C; Baranski, M; Elias, P; Houghton, RA; Landis, E; McGlynn, E; Schlesinger, WH; Siikamaki, JV; Sutton-Grier, AE; Griscom, BW, Natural climate solutions for the United States., Science Advances, vol 4 no. 11 (2018) [10.1126/sciadv.aat1869] [abs].