K. Ramesh Reddy, Ph.D.

Graduate Research Professor of Soil and Water Science and Director of the Wetland Biogeochemistry Laboratory

Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

1999 Awardee

Ramesh Reddy and his group conduct research on biogeochemical cycles of nutrients and other contaminants in wetlands and aquatic systems as related to water quality and ecosystem productivity. Biogeochemistry is an interdisciplinary science that provides a framework to integrate physical, chemical and biological processes functioning in an ecosystem at various spatial and temporal scales.

Reddy’s research on phosphorous biogeochemistry in wetlands and aquatic systems of Florida has aided in the development of management strategies for ecosystem restoration. His research group developed spatial gradient maps (based on data from 400 sampling stations) for nutrient enrichment in several Florida ecosystems including Lake Apopka, Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades. Using historical dating techniques, his research for the first time has determined the long-term phosphorous storage capacity of soils in the Everglades. These data played a pivotal role in designing stormwater treatment areas to protect the Everglades.

In order to evaluate nutrient/contaminant impacts on wetlands and aquatic systems, Reddy’s research has identified several biogeochemical indicators that serve as diagnostic tools to provide early warning signals of ecosystem health. Often, observable changes in plant community structures are too slow, so that by the time visual changes are observed, the ecosystem is severely damaged. Thus, it is important to identify sensitive indicators to evaluate adverse impacts of nutrient loading using easily measurable indicators. Each indicator adds a piece of information to the puzzle; in this way, biogeochemical indicators provide incremental increases in our understanding of the ecosystem. Once tested, these indicators can be used to determine nutrient impacts on ecosystems or to determine the recovery of restored ecosystems.