Thomas Isenhart

Chair and DOGE
Dept: Natural Resource Ecology and Management
Office:334 Science 2
Expertise: water quality, biogeochemistry, riparian buffers, sediment source, greenhouse gas emissions, nitrogen cycling, stream ecology

My training is in water resources (MS and PhD, Iowa State University) and botany and environmental studies (BS, Iowa State University. Prior to my current position, I was an Associate Scientist and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management and served as the first coordinator of the Iowa Conservation Reserve and Enhancement Program. I participate in Environmental Science, Sustainable Agriculture, and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology interdepartmental graduate degree programs.

The goal of our research is to develop locally-acceptable, economically viable, watershed management systems that increase the sustainability of agriculture with respect to water quality, while improving the integrity of the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. We utilize observational and experimental approaches within managed and unmanaged ecosystems to assess the function of conservation buffers and improve their design and performance. Scales of study range from assessing microbial regulation of carbon and nitrogen cycling in stream and riparian systems to prioritizing the placement of conservation practices within a watershed.
Broader impact
I work with farmers and other stakeholders within the state of Iowa and nationally to improve the understanding of the impacts of agriculture on water quality and to implement practices to improve water quality. Our research results are translated into conservation practice standards which are implemented on private working lands. One of our primary research sites, the Bear Creek Watershed, has been designated as a National Restoration Demonstration Watershed by the USEPA and as the Bear Creek Riparian Buffer National Research and Demonstration Area by the USDA.
Key environmental science publications
Tufekcioglu, M., T.M. Isenhart, R.C. Schultz, D. A. Bear, J.L. Kovar and J.R. Russell. 2012 (In Press). Stream bank erosion as a source of sediment and phosphorus in grazed pastures of the Rathbun Lake Watershed in southern Iowa, USA. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation

Schilling, K., T. Isenhart, J. Palmer, C. Wolter, and J. Spooner. 2011. Detecting changes in suspended sediment transport with land cover change in two agricultural watersheds. Journal of the American Water Resources Association. 47(4):672-686

Kim, D., T.M. Isenhart, T.B. Parkin, R.C. Schultz, and T.E. Loynachan. 2010. Methane flux in riparian forest buffer, warm-season and cool-season grass filter, and adjacent crop fields soils. Journal of Environmental Quality 39(1):97-105

Berges, S.A., L.A. Schulte Moore, T.M. Isenhart, and R.C. Schultz. 2010. Bird species diversity in riparian buffers, row crop fields, and grazed pastures within agriculturally dominated watersheds. Agroforestry Systems 79(1): 97-110