Karen L. McKee

Scientist Emeritus
U.S. Geological Survey

Degrees Earned:

  • Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA     Ph.D. Botany - 1993
  • North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC    M.S. Botany – 1977
  • Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS.   B.S. Zoology – 1972


  • Scientist Emeritus, U.S. Geological Survey, 2012-present
  • Research Ecologist, USGS-National Wetlands Research Center, Lafayette, LA, 1998-2012
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, 1998-present
  • Assistant/Associate Professor-Research, Wetland Biogeochemistry Institute, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, 1994-1997.

Awards, Fellowships, and Recognition

  • USGS Regional Diversity Award for “promoting the participation and success of women in science” (30 Sep 2009).
  • Fellow of the Society of Wetland Scientists (2008, for 30 years of wetland research)
  • U.S. Geological Survey Excellence in Science Award (2005) for outstanding research.The Botany C.W. Edgerton Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Research (1994) presented by The Department of Plant Biology, Louisiana State University
  • National Science Foundation Career Advancement Award for Women Scientists and Engineers (1994)


Recent Publications:

  • Falcini, F., N. S. Khan, L. Macelloni, B. P. Horton, C. B. Lutken, K. L. McKee, et al.  2012. Linking the historic 2011 Mississippi River flood to coastal wetland sedimentation.  Nature Geoscience (accepted).
  • Khan, N.S., B. P. Horton, K. L. McKee, et al.  2012.  Tracking wetland sedimentation from the historic 2011 Mississippi River flood. Geology (accepted).
  • McKee, K.L., K. Rogers, and N. Saintilan. 2012. Response of salt marsh and mangrove wetlands to changes in atmospheric CO2, climate, and sea level. In Global change and the Function and Distribution of Wetlands, B. Middleton (ed.) Springer.
  • McKee, K.L. 2012.  Neotropical coastal wetlands. In Wetland Habitats of North America: Ecology and Conservation Concerns, D. Batzer and A. Baldwin (eds.). University of California Press, Berkeley.
  • Middleton, B.A. and K.L. McKee. 2012. Can elevated CO2 modify regeneration from seed banks of floating freshwater wetlands subjected to rising sea level? Hydrobiologia 683 (1): 123-133.
  • Middleton, B.A. and K.L. McKee.  2011.  Soil warming alters seed bank responses across the geographic range of freshwater Taxodium distichum (Cupressaceae) swamps. Amer. J. Bot. 98 (12): 1943-1955.
  • Saintilan, N., K. Rogers, and K. McKee.  2009.  Salt marsh-mangrove interactions in Australasia and the Americas.  Pp. 855-883 In Coastal Wetlands: An Integrated Ecosystem Approach.  Eds. Gerardo M. E. Perillo, Eric Wolanski, Donald R. Cahoon, and Mark M. Brinson.  Elsevier.
  • Langley, J.A., K.L. McKee, D.R. Cahoon, J.A. Cherry, and J.P. Megonigal. 2009.  Elevated CO2 stimulates marsh elevation gain, counterbalancing sea-level rise.  Proceedings National Academy of Sciences 106(15): 6081-6086.
  • McKee, K.L.  2011.  Biophysical controls on vertical accretion and elevation change in Caribbean mangrove ecosystems.  Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 91: 475-483.
  • Feller, I.C., C.E. Lovelock, U. Berger, K.L. McKee, S.B. Joye, and M.C. Ball.  2010. Biocomplexity in mangrove ecosystems.  Ann. Rev. Marine Science 2: 395-417.
  • Cherry, J.A., K.L. McKee, and J.B. Grace. 2009. Elevated CO2 enhances biological contributions to elevation change in coastal wetlands by offsetting stressors associated with sea-level rise. Journal of Ecology 97: 67-77.
  • McKee, K.L. and J.A. Cherry.  2009. Hurricane Katrina sediment slowed elevation loss in subsiding brackish marshes of the Mississippi River delta. Wetlands 29: 2-15.
  • McKee, K.L and J.E. Rooth.  2008.  Where temperate meets tropical: multi-factorial effects of elevated CO2, nitrogen enrichment, and competition on a mangrove-salt marsh community.  Global Change Biology 14 (5): 971-984.
  • McKee, K.L., D.R. Cahoon, and I.C. Feller.  2007.  Caribbean mangroves adjust to rising sea-level through biotic controls on change in soil elevation.  Global Ecology and Biogeography 16: 545-556.
  • McKee, K.L., J.E. Rooth, and I.C. Feller.  2007.  Mangrove recruitment after forest disturbance is facilitated by herbaceous species common to the Caribbean Region.  Ecological Applications 17(6): 1678-1693.Synergistic Activities:

Synergistic Activities:

  • Published several videos for the general public that explain scientific concepts and research findings (see Professional Profile).
  • Host of two blogs designed to promote skills needed to succeed in a science career (see The Singular Scientist, The Scientist Videographer).
  • Co-Founder (2008) of The Wetland Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to enhancing wetland education and research; the foundation annually provides travel grants to students to attend conferences, conduct field research, and attend field courses (www.thewetlandfoundation.org).
  • Creator and Editor of a publication “The SWS Research Brief” that summarizes wetland science for non-technical audiences (http://www.sws.org/ResearchBrief/index.mgi
  • Founder (2008) of a new Section of the Society of Wetland Scientists called “Women in Wetlands”, whose mission is to promote the success of women in the field of wetland science and management through mentoring, networking, and education.
  • Founder and director (2000-2012) of the Wetland Elevated CO2 Experimental Facility, a research facility at the National Wetlands Research Center, USGS.
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