University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
301 Braddock Road
Frostburg, Maryland 21532
Visit David's Research Website
- Historical Ecology
- Stable Isotope Ecology
- Wildlife Ecology
Stable isotope ecology, Ecology and evolution of C4 grasses, Wind-wildlife interactions, Watershed biogeochemistry, Microbial biogeography
Dr. Nelson is a Professor at the Appalachian Laboratory of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science in Frostburg, Maryland. In July 2021 he became Director of the Appalachian Laboratory as part of a new plan that will allow faculty to rotate through leadership positions at the lab on a regular basis. Nelson is a broadly trained ecologist who uses chemical signatures called stable isotopes to investigate the effects of environmental changes on ecological and biogeochemical processes. He has worked on a variety of taxa (plants, animals, microbes) and systems (grasslands, forests, lakes, streams) across various temporal scales throughout the world. He founded and directs the Central Appalachians Stable Isotope Facility, which is housed at the Appalachian Lab. Dr. Nelson has served as vice-chair and chair of the paleoecology section of the Ecological Society of America, as well as vice-chair of the UMCES faculty senate. He serves on the editorial boards of the journals Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment and PeerJ. He is actively involved in various science outreach activities in western Maryland and nearby West Virginia. He received a B.A. in Biology from Trinity Christian College and a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Illinois. He held postdoctoral positions at the University of Illinois and Harvard University. He joined the faculty of the Appalachian Lab in 2009, and was a visiting scholar at Nagoya University in Japan in spring 2017.
- University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2005, Ph.D., Ecology
- Trinity Christian College, 2001, B.A., Biology
Ongoing and Recent CESU Projects
California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Informing management and recovery of spotted owls through understanding movement and dispersal of barred owls, 2/22-1/25.
US Geological Survey, Geographic origin of trumpeter swans wintering in western states: implications for management of trumpeter swan populations and hunting seasons for tundra swans, 8/21- 8/26.
US Geological Survey, Range-wide demographic consequences of golden eagle fatalities in Wyoming, 10/20-9/22.
Sea Duck Joint Venture, Evaluating stable hydrogen isotopes for identifying breeding areas of harvested sea ducks, 9/20–8/22.
US Fish and Wildlife Service, Geographic origins and population genetics and genomics of bats killed at wind-energy facilities in the Midwest, 9/15-8/19.
US National Park Service, Assessment of white-nose syndrome, geographic origin, and genetic diversity of bats at five national park units in western Pennsylvania, 7/15-6/17.