People Directory : Amanda Spivak
WHOI Mailing Address:
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
266 Woods Hole Rd.
Woods Hole, MA 02543-1050
My research focuses on the ecology and biogeochemistry of coastal wetlands and estuaries. Elucidating controls on coastal ecosystem functioning is critical because these systems provide human societies with economically valuable services and are important, but poorly constrained, components of the global carbon cycle. Estuaries and wetlands are biologically, chemically, and physically complex environments that are acutely impacted by human activities. Disturbances such as nutrient pollution, over-fishing, and climate change fundamentally alter how estuaries and wetlands function and interact with the coastal ocean. Because efforts to reverse or remediate the effects of disturbances can further perturb fragile wetlands and estuaries, a key unknown is whether impacted habitats can be restored to pre-disturbance conditions. Through my research, I seek to develop an integrated understanding of ecosystem biogeochemistry and ecology in order to refine the role of estuaries and wetlands in the global carbon cycle and predict the likelihood of recovery from human disturbances. I use innovative geochemical tracer approaches in combination with mesocosm and landscape scale experiments to quantify carbon pathways, transformations, and fate in wetland and nearshore habitats and evaluate the effects of human disturbances. By taking an interdisciplinary approach, my research has demonstrated that ecological communities have profound effects on sediment biogeochemistry and, as a result, coastal carbon cycling and ecosystem responses to anthropogenic disturbances.