Research Interests



Dr. Christopher J. Woltemade
Dept. of Geography - Earth Science
Shippensburg University

Graduate student John Herrmann surveying Burd Run in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania.


I have primary interests in water resources management, hydrology, geomorphology, and stream and wetland restoration. My current research projects reflect these interests.

During 2006 I worked with Jinnieth Woodward (M.S. Geoenvironmental Studies 2006) to assess the water quality benefits of a small restored wetland in Shippensburg, PA. With 2 years of monitoring data we found that the wetland removes over 60% of the nitrate that enters the wetland from a limestone spring. Reducing the loads of this key nutrient will help to improve water quality downstream in Burd Run and contributes to the efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. Results will be presented at the 2007 AAG conference and are under review for publication in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association.

In 2003 I worked with three Geoenvironmental Studies students to study the potential for wetland restoration to decrease nutrient concentrations in the Conestoga River watershed, near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This collaborative effort with the national non-profit group Environmental Defense represents an extension of my earlier research on the ability of wetlands to improve water quality in agricultural areas. (See: Woltemade, C. J. 2000."Ability of restored wetlands to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in agricultural drainage water." Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 55(3): 303-309.)

In 2003 I collaborated with several others to write a white paper on the importance of headwater streams and isolated wetlands. The paper is motivated by potential changes that would limit the applicability of the Clean Water Act to these important aquatic systems. An edited version intended for a general audience was published by Sierra Club and American Rivers:

Meyer, J. L., L. A. Kaplan, D. Newbold, D. L. Strayer, C. J. Woltemade, J. B. Zedler, R. Beilfuss, Q. Carpenter, R. Semlitsch, M. C. Watzin, and P. H. Zedler. 2003. Where rivers are born: The scientific imperative for defending small streams and wetlands. Washington, DC: Sierra Club and American Rivers. [PDF full publication - 3.9MB] [PDF Executive Summary - 395KB]

I have worked extensively on the topic of stream restoration. In 2001 I twice traveled to Nicaragua to provide technical assistance and quality assurance to the USDA/USAID Hurricane Mitch Reconstruction Project, working on 20 different projects ranging from river restoration to soil and water conservation.

I am also involved in a number of projects in the immediate Shippensburg area, focusing primarily on the Burd Run watershed. During 2001-2003 I served as co-Principal Director (with Brian Jaymes, Cumberland County Conservation District) in the effort to restore the Burd Run stream channel, riparian zone, and floodplain wetlands within the Shippensburg Township Park adjacent to the SU campus. The project was supported by a $129,000 Environmental Stewardship and Watershed Protection grant from Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Growing Greener Program. I continue to work with several students studying watershed hydrology, water quality, and geomorphology, as well as monitoring the impacts of the stream restoration project.

Much of the effort to work within the Burd Run watershed is the outgrowth of the " Burd Run Interdisciplinary Watershed Research Laboratory ," established in 1999 with funding from the National Science Foundation. The Research Laboratory includes field and laboratory equipment that is available for faculty-student research.

Most of the research in which I am involved, and most of my teaching, tends to cut across disciplinary lines, linking together elements from sciences such as geology, geomorphology, hydrology and aquatic biology. My approach is to better understand the biophysical system, but also to develop applications for planning, management, and policy.

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Last updated: 12/6/06