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Nancy Rybicki


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Short Biography


I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Biology in 1980, my Master of Science degree in 1986 and my PhD in 2000 in Environmental Biology from George Mason University (GMU).  I am an affiliate professor in the Environmental Science and Policy Department at GMU as well as a hydrologist in the National Research Program (NRP) of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Water Resources Division in Reston, Virginia.  I have been with the NRP since 1979 and am currently a member of the Vegetation and Hydrogeomorphic Relations Project where I lead the submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) task.   I am an aquatic plant ecologist and have designed and conducted studies directed toward the recognition and understanding of processes that affect estuarine, riverine, floodplain, and wetland ecosystems.  This included fundamental research on the factors affecting diversity and the distribution of aquatic vegetation in estuaries and the effects of vegetation on water quality and flow.  I have studied factors influencing distribution and abundance of submersed aquatic macrophytes in estuaries and worked with the Environmental Protection Agency and other members of the Chesapeake Bay Program to set water-quality goals and habitat restoration targets for submersed aquatic vegetation in the Chesapeake Bay.  I also participated in USGS multidisciplinary studies in the south Florida Everglades focusing on determining vegetative resistance to flow to improve surface water models. In addition, I quantified the uptake of nutrients in plant material relative to other nutrient cycling processes in order to better define the important role of vegetation in nutrient and sediment trapping in a Piedmont floodplain.  

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Publications (2007 to present)

Rybicki, N. B., Noe, G. B., Hupp, C. R. and Robinson, M. E.  2015. Vegetation composition, nutrient, and sediment dynamics along a floodplain landscape.  River Systems.

Batson, J., Noe, G.B., Hupp, C.R., Krauss, K.W., Rybicki, N.B. and Schenk. E.R.  2015. Soil greenhouse gas emissions andcarbon budgeting in a short-hydroperiod floodplain wetland.  JGR Biogeosciences. V. 120, p. 77–95.  DOI: 10.1002/2014JG002817

Campbell, S.H., Rybicki, N.B., and Schenk, E.R., 2015, The distribution of submersed aquatic vegetation and water lettuce in the fresh and oligohaline tidal Potomac River, 2007: U.S. Geological Survey Open-FileReport 2014–1259, 33 p. (

Noe, G. Hupp, C. and Rybicki, N., 2013, Hydrogeomorphology influences Soil Nitrogen and Phosphorus Mineralization in Floodplain Wetlands, Ecosystems, v. 16, p. 75-94, DOI: 10.1007/s10021-012-9597-0 (

Litwin, R., Smoot, J., Pavich, M., Markewich, H. Oberg, E., Helwig, B., Steury, B., Santucci, V., Durika, N., Rybicki, N.B, Englehardt, K. Sanders, G. Verardo, S. Elmore, A., and Gilmer, J., 2010, Analysis of the deconstruction of Dyke Marsh, George Washington Memorial Parkway, Virginia: progression, geologic and manmade causes, and effective restoration scenarios, U. S. Geological Survey Open File Report 20101269.

Ruhl, H.A. and Rybicki, N. B., 2010, Long-term reductions in anthropogenic nutrients link to improvements in Chesapeake Bay habitat,Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, v. 107, no. 38 (

Tanner, C., Hunter, S., Reel, J., Parham, T., Naylor, M., Karrh, L. Busch, K., Golden, R., Lewandowski, M., Rybicki, N., and Schenk, E., 2010, Evaluating a Large-Scale Eelgrass Restoration Project in the Chesapeake Bay, Restoration Ecology, v. 18, p 538-548, DOI: 10.1111/j.1526-100X.2010.00694.x (

Orth, R.J. , Williams, M.R. , Marion, S.R. , Wilcox, D.J. , Carruthers, T.J.B. , Moore, K.A., Kemp, W.M., Dennison, W.C., Rybicki, N., Bergstrom, P., and Batiuk, R.A., 2010, Long-term trends in submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) in Chesapeake Bay, USA, related to water quality: Estuaries and Coasts, v. 33, no. 5, p. 1144 - 1163. DOI: 10.1007/s12237-010-9311-4. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Rybicki, Nancy, B., Justiniano- Vélez, Erika M., Schenk, Edward R., Baldizar, Julie M., and Hunter, Sarah E., 2008, The distribution of submersed aquatic vegetation in the fresh and oligohaline tidal Potomac River, 2005, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1218,

Carter, V., Landwehr, J.M., Rybicki, N.B., Reel, J.T., and Ruhl, H.A., 2008, Linkages among submersed aquatic vegetation, nutrients, river discharge and weather in the tidal Potomac River and Estuary, in Buchanan, C., ed., Potomac Integrated Analysis Report: Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin. (on-line chapter in pdf format:

Rybicki, N.B. and Landwehr, J.M., 2007, Submerged Aquatic Vegetation and Water Clarity, in Phillips, S.W., ed., Synthesis of U.S. Geological Survey Science for the Chesapeake Bay Ecosystem and Implications for Environmental Management: U. S. Geological Survey Circular 1316, Chapter 11, p. 46-49. (on-line chapter in pdf fomat

Rybicki, N. B., Yoon, S. H., Schenk, E. R. and Baldizar, J. B., 2007, The distribution of submersed aquatic vegetation in the fresh and oligohaline tidal Potomac River, 2004, U. S. Geological Survey Open File Report 2007–1198,

Baldizar, J. and Rybicki, N. B., 2007, Restoration Potential of Submerged Aquatic Vegetation in the Tidal Pocomoke River (Chesapeake Bay, USA), Ecological Restoration, vol. 25, no. 2, p. 138-139.

Rybicki, N. B., and Landwehr, J.M., 2007, Long-term changes in abundance and diversity of macrophyte and waterfowl populations in an estuary with exotic macrophytes and improving water quality, Limnology and Oceanography, v. 52, no. 3, p. 1125-1207.

Recent technical presentations (2011 to present)

Rybicki, N., Kollar, S, and R. Orth, 2015, Native macrophytes respond positively to improvements in water quality conditions in the upper Chesapeake Bay, Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation, Portland, Oregon, November. 8-12, 2015. 

Rybicki, N., Striano, E., and R. Thum, 2015, A novel invasive species of water chestnut found in the Potomac River near Washington, D.C.,Aquatic Plant Management Society,  Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, July 12 to 15, 2015.

Rybicki, N. and J.K. Bohlke, 2014, Importance of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) for in-stream nitrogen processing in the Potomac River: USGS Chesapeake Bay Science Meeting, Shepherdstown, WV, May 12-14, 2014.

Rybicki, N., Noe. G, and C. Hupp, 2013, Riparian vegetation and nutrient fluxes along lateral and longitudinal gradients of an Urban Virginia Piedmont Stream; Society of Wetland Scientist Meeting , Duluth, Minnesota, June 2-6, 2013.

Rybicki, N. B,. G. B. Noe, C. R. Hupp, N. Ostroski, K. Wolf, E. Schenk, M. Robinson, and K. Bealing, 2011, The effects of vegetation on cycling and trapping of nutrients, South Atlantic and Mid Atlantic Society of Wetland Scientists Meeting, Reston, VA, March 2011

Rybicki, N. B., J. D. Kirshtein, and M. A. Voytek, 2011, DNA fingerprinting of HydrillaEgeria, and Elodea (Hydrocharitacea) reveals new information on their range and recent history: Ecological Society of America Meeting, Austin TX, August 2011.

Rybicki, N. and H. Ruhl, 2011, Long-term reductions in anthropogenic nutrients link to improvements in Chesapeake Bay habitat: Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation, Daytona FL, November 2011.


Rybicki, N. B., J. D. Kirshtein, and M. A. Voytek, 2011, DNA fingerprinting of HydrillaEgeria, and Elodea (Hydrocharitacea) reveals new information on their range and recent history: INTECOL/ Society of Wetland Scientist/GEER International Wetlands Conference, Orlando FL, June 2012.


My Science Topics

Science Topic
Water Resourcesestuaries
Water Resourcesfloodplains
Water Resourceslakes
Water Resourceswater quality
Ecology and Environmentaquatic ecosystems
Ecology and Environmentbiodiversity
Ecology and Environmentbiogeography
Ecology and Environmentecological competition
Ecology and Environmentecological processes
Ecology and Environmentecosystem diversity
Ecology and Environmentecosystem functions
Ecology and Environmentecosystems
Ecology and Environmentenvironmental assessment
Ecology and Environmentestuarine ecosystems
Ecology and Environmentforests
Ecology and Environmentfreshwater ecosystems
Ecology and Environmentwetlands

My USGS Science Strategy Areas

Understanding Ecosystems & Predicting Ecosystems Change

Environmental science and aquatic plant ecology

Image of Current Focus for Environmental science and aquatic plant ecology


Contact Information

Nancy Rybicki
12201 Sunrise Valley Dr
Reston, VA 20192
703-648-5484 - Fax
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