USGS Professional Pages
Hydrologist (RGE)Contact Info
I hold an M.S. in Environmental Sciences from the Univ. of Virginia and a Ph.D. in Water Resources Management from the State Univ. of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry. My disciplinary background is primarily in biogeochemistry and hydrology with a focus on understanding the processes that control the cycling of chemical elements through watersheds and ecosystems. I have worked as a Research Hydrologist in New York Water Science Center since 1987 on studies that include the effects of acid rain on ecosystems, the cycling of nitrogen in watersheds, and environmental mercury cycling. My investigations have also included the effects of various types of landscape disturbance such as suburban land use, climate change, and forest harvesting. I work collaboratively, often with several investigators from the USGS, and other agencies and universities. Study approaches I commonly use include monitoring of water and soil chemistry, quantifying the rates of key cycling processes, experimental manipulations of landscapes, use of natural and applied isotope tracers, and statistical and process-level models. I am also active in professional organizations, have organized conferences at the regional, national, and international levels, and have served in leadership roles in many of these organizations. Other activities include chairing a proposal evaluation panel for a Federal agency, working at the science-policy interface by serving as Director of the National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program and on an EPA Clean Air Act Advisory Panel, and serving on program evaluation and advisory panels for several agencies and science organizations.
A. Refereed Journals
1. Caputo, J., Beier, C.M., Groffman, P.M., Burns, D.A., Beall, F.D., Hazlett, P.W., and Yorks, T.E., 2015, Effects of harvesting forest biomass on water and climate regulation services: a synthesis of long-term ecosystem experiments in eastern North America, Ecosystems, DOI: 10.1007/s10021-015-9928-z.
2. Creed, I.F., McKnight, D.M., Pellerin, B.A., Green, M.B., Bergamaschi, B.A., Aiken, G.R., Burns, D.A., Findlay, S.E.G., Shanley, J.B., Striegl, R.G., Aulenbach, B.T., Clow, D.W., Laudon, H., McGlynn, B.L., McGuire, K.J., Smith, R.A., and Stackpoole, S.M., 2015, The river as a chemostat: fresh perspectives on dissolved organic matter flowing down the river continuum, Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 72: 1272-1285, doi: 10.1139/cjfas-2014-0400.
3. Burns, D.A., Nystrom, E.A., Wolock, D.M., Bradley, P.M., Riva Murray, K., 2014, An empirical approach to modeling methylmercury concentrations in an Adirondack stream watershed, Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 119: 1970-1984, doi: 10.1002/2013JG002481.
4. Burns, D.A., Woodruff, L.G., Bradley, P.M., and Cannon, W.F., 2014, Mercury in the soil of two contrasting watersheds in the eastern United States, PLOS One, 9: e86855, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086855 .
5. Levine, C.R., Yanai, R.D., Lampman, G.G., Burns, D.A., Driscoll, C.T., Lawrence, G.B., Lynch, J.A. Schoch, N., 2014, Evaluating the efficiency of environmental monitoring programs, Ecological Indicators, 39: 94-101.
6. Peters, N.E., Burns, D.A., Aulenbach, B.T., 2014, Evaluation of high-frequency mean streamwater transit-time estimates using groundwater age and dissolved silica concentrations in a small, forested watershed, Aquatic Geochemistry, 20: 183-202.
7. Harpold, A.A., Burns, D.A., Walter, M.T., Steenhuis, T.S., 2013, Variation in hydrogeomorphology explains acidification-driven variation in aquatic biological communities in the Neversink River basin, USA, Ecological Applications, 23: 791-800.
8. Bradley, P.M., Journey, C.A., Brigham, M.E., Burns, D.A., Button, D., Riva-Murray, K., 2013, Intra- and inter-basin mercury comparisons: Importance of basin scale and time-weighted methylmercury estimates, Environmental Pollution, 172: 42-52.
9. Burns, D.A., Aiken, G.R., Bradley, P.M., Journey, C.A., Schelker, J., 2013, Specific ultra-violet absorbance as an indicator of mercury sources in an Adirondack river basin, Biogeochemistry, 113: 451-466.
10. Bradley, P.M., Journey, C., Lowery, M., Brigham, M.E., Burns, D.A., Button, D., Chapelle, F., Marvin-DiPasquale, M., Riva-Murray, K., 2012, Shallow groundwater mercury supply in a Coastal Plain stream, Environmental Science and Technology, 46: 7503-7511.
11. Burns, D.A., Riva-Murray, K., Bradley, P.M., Aiken, G.R., Brigham, M.E., 2012, Landscape controls on total and methyl Hg in the upper Hudson River basin, New York, USA, Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 117, G01034, doi:10.1029/2011JG001812.
12. Sullivan, T.J., Cosby, B.J., Driscoll, C.T., Herlihy, A.T., Burns, D.A., 2012, Target loads of atmospheric sulfur and nitrogen deposition for protection of acid sensitive aquatic resources in the Adirondack Mountains, New York, Water Resources Research, 48, W01547, doi: 10.1029/2011WR011171.
13. Kerr, J.G., Eimers, M.C., Creed, I.F., Adams, M.B., Beall, F., Burns, D., Campbell, J.L., Christopher, S.F., Clair, T.A., Couchesne, F., Duchense, L., Fernandez, I., Houle, D., Jeffries, D.S., Likens, G.E., Mitchell, M.J., Shanley, J., Yao, H., 2012, The effect of seasonal drying on sulphate dynamics in streams across southeastern Canada and the northeastern USA, Biogeochemistry, 111: 393-409.
14. Riva-Murray, K., Chasar, L.C., Bradley, P.M., Burns, D.A., Smith, M.J., Abrahamsen, T.A., 2011, Spatial patterns of mercury in macroinvertebrates and fishes from streams of contrasting forested landscapes in the eastern United States, Ecotoxicology, 20: 1530-1542.
15. Bradley, P.M., Burns, D.A., Murray, K.R., Brigham, M.E., Button, D.T., Chasar, L.C., Marvin-DiPasquale, M., Lowery, M.A., Journey, C.A., 2011, Spatial and seasonal variability of dissolved methylmercury in two basins in the eastern United States, Environmental Science and Technology, 45: 2048-2055.
16. Siemion, J., Burns, D.A., Murdoch, P.S., Germain, R.H., 2011, The relationship of harvesting intensity to changes in soil, soil water, and stream chemistry in a northern hardwood forest, Catskill Mountains, New York, USA, Forest Ecology and Management, 261: 1510-1519.
17. Schelker, J., Burns, D.A., Weiler, M., and Laudon, H., 2011, Hydrological mobilization of mercury and dissolved organic carbon in a snow-dominated forested watershed: Conceptualization and modeling, Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 116, G01002, doi:10.1029/2010JG001330.
18. Mitchell, M.J., Lovett, G., Bailey, S., Beall, F., Burns, D., Buso, D., Clair, T.A., Corchesne, F., Duchesne, L., Eimers, C., Fernandez, I., Houle, D., Jeffries, D.S., Likens, G.E., Moran, M.D., Rogers, C., Schwede, D., Shanley, J., Weathers, K., and Vet, R., 2011, Comparisons of watershed sulfur budgets in southeast Canada and northeast US: New approaches and implications, Biogeochemistry, 103: 181-207.
19. Harpold, A.A., Burns, D.A., Walter, T., Shaw, S.B., and Steenhuis, T.S., 2010, Relating hydrogeomorphologic properties to stream buffering chemistry in the Neversink River Watershed, New York State, USA, Hydrological Processes, 24: 3759-3771.
20. Vidon, P., Allan, C., Burns, D., Duval, T., Gurwick, N., Inamdar, S., Lowrance, R., Okay, J., Scott, D., Sebestyen, S., 2010, Hot spots and hot moments in riparian zones: Potential for improved water quality management, Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 46: 278-298.
21. Elliott, E.M., Kendall, C., Boyer, E.W., Burns, D.A., Lear, G., Golden, H.E., Harlin, K., Bytnerowicz, A, Butler, T.J., Glatz, R., 2009, Dual nitrate isotopes in actively and passively collected dry deposition: Utility for partitioning NOx sources, understanding reaction pathways, and comparisons with isotopes in wet deposition, Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 114, G04020, doi: 10.1029/2008.JG000889.
22. Burns, D.A., Boyer, E.W., Elliott, E.M., Kendall, C., 2009, Sources and transformations of nitrate from streams draining varying land uses: Evidence from dual isotope analysis, Journal of Environmental Quality, 38: 1149-1159.
23. Tetzlaff, D., Siebert, J., McGuire, K.J., Laudon, H., Burns, D.A., Dunn, S.M., Soulsby, C., 2009, How does landscape structure influence catchment transit time across different geomorphic landscapes? Hydrological Processes, 23: 945-953.
24. Homyak, P.M., Yanai, R.D., Burns, D.A., Briggs, R.D., Germain, R.H., 2008, Nitrogen immobilization by wood chip application: Protecting water quality in a northern hardwood forest, Forest Ecology and Management, 255: 2589-2601.
25. Burns, D.A., Blett, T., Haeuber, R., Pardo, L., 2008, Critical loads as a policy tool for protecting ecosystems from the effects of air pollutants, Frontiers of Ecology and the Environment, 6: 156-159.
26. Christopher, S.F., Mitchell, M.J., McHale, M.R., Boyer, E.W., Burns, D.A., Kendall, C., 2008, Factors controlling nitrogen release from two forested catchments with contrasting hydrochemical responses, Hydrological Processes, 22: 46-62.
27. Burns, D.A., Murray, K.R., Bode, R.W., Passy, S., 2008, Biological and chemical responses to reduced levels of acid deposition in the Neversink River Basin, Catskill Mountains, New York, 1987-2003, Ecological Indicators, 8: 191-203.
28. Elliott, E.M., Kendall, C., Boyer, E.W., Burns, D.A., Wankel, S.D., Bain, D.J., Harlin, K., Butler, T.J., Carlton, R., 2007, An isotopic tracer of stationary source NOx emissions across the midwestern and northeastern United States, Environmental Science and Technology, 41: 7661-7667.
29. McHale, M.R., Murdoch, P.S., Burns, D.A., and Lawrence, G.B., 2007, Controls on aluminum release from soils after a clearcut in southeastern New York, USA, Biogeochemistry, 84: 311-331.
30. Lovett, G.M., Burns, D.A., Driscoll, C.T., Jenkins. J.C., Mitchell, M.J, Rustad, L., Shanley, J.B., Likens, G.E., Haeuber, R., 2007, Who needs environmental monitoring? Frontiers of Ecology and the Environment, 5: 253-260.
31. Burns, D.A., Klaus, J., McHale, M.R., 2007, Recent climate trends and implications for water resources in the Catskill Mountain Region, New York, USA, Journal of Hydrology, 336: 155-170.
32. Burns, D.A., McHale, M.R., Driscoll, C.T., and Roy, K.M., 2006, Response of surface waters to reduced levels of acid precipitation: a comparison of trends in two regions of New York, USA, Hydrological Processes, 20: 1611-1627.
33. Wang, X. Burns, D.A., Briggs, R.D., Yanai, R.D., Germain, R.H., 2006, Changes in stream chemistry and nutrient export following a partial harvest in the Catskill Mountains, New York, USA, Forest Ecology and Management, 223: 103-112.
34. Burns, D.A., Vitvar, T., McDonnell, J.J., Hassett, J., Duncan, J., and Kendall, C., 2005, Effects of suburban development on runoff generation in the Croton River basin, New York, USA, Journal of Hydrology, 311: 266-281.
35. Baldigo, B.P., Murdoch, P.S., and Burns, D.A., 2005, Stream acidification and mortality of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in response to timber harvest in three small watersheds of the Catskill Mountains, New York, USA, Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science, 62: 1168-1183.
36. Burns, D.A., Murdoch, P.S., 2005, Effects of a clearcut on the net rates of nitrification and N mineralization in a northern hardwood forest, Catskill Mountains, New York, USA, Biogeochemistry, 72: 123-146.
37. Shaman, J., Stieglitz, M., Burns, D., 2004, Are big basins just the sum of small catchments?, Hydrological Processes, 18: 3195-3206.
38. Welsch, D.L., Burns, D.A., Murdoch, P.S., 2004, Processes affecting the response of sulfate concentrations to clearcutting in a northern hardwood forest, Catskill Mountains, New York, Biogeochemistry, 68: 337-354.
39. Burns, D.A., 2004, The effects of atmospheric nitrogen deposition in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and southern Wyoming, USA¾a critical review, Environmental Pollution, 127: 257-269.
40. Burns, D.A., Plummer, L.N., McDonnell, J.J., Busenberg, E., Casile, G.C., Kendall, C., Hooper, R.P., Freer, J.E., Peters, N.E., Beven, K., and Schlosser, P., 2003, The geochemical evolution of groundwater in a forested Piedmont catchment, Ground Water, 41: 913-925.
41. Burns, D.A., 2003, Atmospheric nitrogen deposition in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and southern Wyoming¾a review and new analysis of past study results, Atmospheric Environment, 37: 921-932.
42. Freer, J., McDonnell, J.J., Beven, K.J., Peters, N.E., Burns, D.A., Hooper, R.P., Aulenbach, B., and Kendall, C., 2002, The role of bedrock topography on subsurface storm flow, Water Resources Research, 38(12), 1269, doi: 10.1029/2001WR000872.
43. Burns, D.A., and Kendall, C., 2002, Analysis of d18O and d15N to differentiate NO3- sources in runoff at two watersheds in the Catskill Mountains of New York, Water Resources Research, 38(5), 1051, doi: 10.1029/2001WR000292.
44. Burns, D.A., and Nguyen, L., 2002, Nitrate movement and removal along a shallow groundwater flow path in a riparian wetland within a sheep-grazed pastoral catchment: results of a tracer study, New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 36: 371-385.
45. Vitvar, T., Burns, D.A., Lawrence, G.B., McDonnell, J.J., and Wolock, D.M., 2002, Estimation of groundwater residence times in watersheds from the recession of the runoff-hydrograph: method and application in the Neversink watershed, Catskill Mountains, New York, Hydrological Processes, 16: 1871-1877.
46. West, J., Findlay, S., Burns, D., Weathers, K., and Lovett, G., 2001, Catchment-scale variation in the nitrate concentrations of groundwater seeps in the Catskill Mountains, New York, USA, Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 132: 389-400.
47. Burns, D.A., Hooper, R.P., McDonnell, J.J., Peters, N.E., Freer, J.E., Kendall, C., and Beven, K., 2001, Quantifying contributions to storm runoff using end-member mixing analysis and hydrologic measurements at the Panola Mountain Research Watershed (Georgia, USA), Hydrological Processes, 15: 1903-1924.
48. Welsch, D.L., McDonnell, J.J., Burns, D.A., and Kroll, C., 2001, Relationships between topography and chemistry in subsurface stormflow, Hydrological Processes, 15: 1925-1938.
49. Brown, V.A., McDonnell, J.J., Burns, D.A., and Kendall, C., 1999, The role of event water, rapid shallow flowpaths, and catchment size in summer stormflow, Journal of Hydrology, 217: 171-190.
50. Lawrence, G.B., David, M.B., Lovett, G.M., Murdoch, P.S., Burns, D.A., Baldigo, B.P., Thompson, A.W., Porter, J.H., and Stoddard, J.L., 1999, Soil calcium status and the response of stream chemistry to changing acid deposition rates, Ecological Applications, 9: 1059-1072.
51. Burns, D.A., 1998, Retention of NO3- in an upland stream environment: A mass balance approach, Biogeochemistry, 40: 73-96.
52. Burns, D.A., and McDonnell, J.J., 1998, Effects of a beaver pond on runoff processes: Comparison of two headwater catchments, Journal of Hydrology, 205: 248-264.
53. Burns, D.A., Hooper, R.P., McDonnell, J.J., Freer, J.E., Kendall, C., and Beven, K., 1998, Base cation concentrations in subsurface flow from a forested hillslope: The role of flushing frequency, Water Resources Research, 34: 3535-3544.
54. Burns, D.A., Lawrence, G.B., and Murdoch, P.S., 1998, Catskill streams still susceptible to acid rain, Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, 79: 197, 200-201.
55. Burns, D.A., Murdoch, P.S., Lawrence, G.B., and Michel, R.L., 1998, The effect of groundwater springs on NO3- concentrations during summer in Catskill Mountain streams, Water Resources Research, 34: 1987-1996.
56. Murdoch, P.S., Burns, D.A., and Lawrence, G.B., 1998, Relation of climate change to the acidification of surface waters by nitrogen deposition, Environmental Science and Technology, 32: 1642-1647.
57. Burns, D.A., Lawrence, G.B., and Murdoch, P.S., 1998, Catskill streams still susceptible to acid rain, Northeastern Geology and Environmental Sciences, 20: 294-298.
58. Freer, J., McDonnell, J., Beven, K.J., Brammer, D., Burns, D., Hooper, R.P., and Kendall, C., 1997, Topographic controls on subsurface storm flow at the hillslope scale for two hydrologically distinct small catchments, Hydrological Processes, 11: 1347-1352.
59. Burns, D.A., 1996, The effects of liming an Adirondack lake watershed on downstream water chemistry, Biogeochemistry, 32: 339-362.
60. Driscoll, C.T., Cirmo, C.P., Fahey, T.J., Blette, V.L., Bukaveckas, P.A., Burns, D.A., Gubala, C.P., Leopold, D.J., Newton, R.M., Raynal, D.J., Schofield, C.L., Yavitt, J.B., and Porcella, D.B., 1996, The experimental watershed liming study: Comparison of lake and watershed neutralization strategies, Biogeochemistry, 32: 143-174.
61. McDonnell, J.J., Freer, J., Hooper, R., Kendall, C., Burns, D., Beven, K., and Peters, J., 1996, New method developed for studying flow on hillslopes, Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, 77: 465 and 472.
62. Newton, R.M., Burns, D.A., Blette, V.L., and Driscoll, C.T., 1996, Effects of whole catchment liming on the episodic acidification of two Adirondack streams, Biogeochemistry, 32: 299-322.
63. Burns, D.A., 1989, Speciation and equilibrium relations of soluble aluminum in a headwater stream at base flow and during rain events, Water Resources Research, 25: 1653-1665.
64. Burns, D.A., Galloway, J.N., and Hendrey, G.R., 1981, Acidification of surface waters in two areas of the eastern United States, Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 16: 277-285.
B. Edited Proceedings Papers/Book Chapters
5. Hooper, R.P., Aulenbach, B.T., Burns, D.A., McDonnell, J., Freer, J., Kendall, C., and Beven, K, 1998, Riparian control of streamwater chemistry: Implications for hydrochemical basin models, in: Hydrology, Water Resources and Ecology in Headwaters, K. Kovar, U. Tappeiner, N.E. Peters, and R.G. Craig (eds.), International Association of Hydrological Sciences: Wallingford, Oxon, UK, p. 451-458.
C. Papers and Reports in Review but not yet Accepted for Publication
D. Refereed Journal Reports
E. Government Agency Reports
1. Lawrence, G.B., Sullivan, T.J., Burns, D.A., Bailey, S.A., Cosby, B.J., Dovciak, M., Ewing, H.A., McDonnell, T.C., Minocha, R., Quant, J., Rice, K.C., Siemion, J., and Weathers, K.C., 2015, Acidic deposition along the Appalachian Trail corridor and its effects on acid-sensitive terrestrial and aquatic resources: Results of the Appalachian Trail atmospheric deposition effects MEGA-transect study, Natural Resource Report NPS/NRSS/ARD/NRR—2015/996. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado, 241 p.
2. Burns, D.A., and Gazoorian, C.L., 2015, Estimates of natural streamflow at two streamgages on the Esopus Creek, New York, Water Years 1932 to 2012, U.S. Geological Survey Scientific-Investigations Report 2015-5050, 20 p.
3. Sullivan, T.J., McDonnell, T.C., Cosby, B.J., Driscoll, C.T., Herlihy, A.T., and Burns, D.A., 2014, Critical loads of sulfur and nitrogen for protection of acid-sensitive aquatic and terrestrial resources in the Adirondack Mountains, NYSERDA Report 14-10, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Albany, NY, 129 p.
5. Journey, C.A., Burns, D.A., Riva-Murray, K., Brigham, M.E., Button, D.T., Feaster, T.D., and Bradley, P.M., 2012, Fluvial transport of mercury, organic carbon, suspended sediment, and selected major ions in contrasting stream basins in South Carolina and New York: October 2004 – September 2009. Columbia, SC, U.S. Geological Survey Scientific-Investigation Report 2012-5173, Reston, Virginia, 125 p.
6. Scudder-Eikenberry, B.C., Riva-Murray, K., Smith, M.J., Bradley, P.M., Button, D.T., Clark, J.M., Burns, D.A., Journey, C.A., 2012, Environmental Settings of Streams Sampled for Mercury in New York and South Carolina: 2005–2009, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011-1318, Reston, Virginia, 115 p.
12. Burns, D.A., Driscoll, C.T., Lovett, G.M., McHale, M.R., Mitchell, M.J., Weathers, K., Roy, K., 2005, An assessment of recovery and key processes affecting the response of surface waters to reduced levels of acid precipitation in the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains, NYSERDA Report 05-03, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Albany, NY, 30 p.
My Science Topics
My USGS Science Strategy AreasUnderstanding Ecosystems & Predicting Ecosystems Change
Climate Variability & Change
Effects of Human Activities and Natural Disturbances on Ecosystems
Particular focus is the effect of human activities on the cycling of chemical elements such as mercury, nitrogen, carbon, and sulfur, in the environment. Research describes and quantifies the hydrological and biogeochemical processes that affect surface water chemistry.
425 Jordan Road
Troy, NY 12180
518-285-5601 - Fax
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