skip to content

Dr. Robert Neely

Professor, Provost, and Vice President for Academic Affairs
PO Box 425799
Texas Woman's University
Denton, TX 76204-5799

Office Location: ACT 12
Office Phone: (940) 898-3301
Lab Phone: No active lab
Fax: (940) 898-3306

Teaching Area: (Not Active) Ecology, Botany, Aquatics, Biogeochemistry
Research Area: (Not Active) wetland microbial ecology, aquatic plant ecology, limnology








Iowa State University




Southwest Baptist College


Major Academic/Research Interest


Project List

My research efforts have been focused on two general areas of wetland ecology: (a) decay processes and the role of epiphytic organisms in these processes and (b) the impacts of various kinds of disturbance on wetland systems. Of these two foci, my primary emphasis involves microbial interactions associated with emergent plant decay, particularly within periphyton attached to plant material. Plant decay is one of the most important determinants of nutrient flux in wetlands are associated with plant decay; thus, the patterns of litter fall, organic matter decomposition, and nutrient uptake and release during decomposition are critical to understanding nutrient cycling and retention in wetlands. Our microbial work has demonstrated that positive interactions between epiphytic heterotrophs and autotrophs can influence decay rates, and that the metabolism of periphytic bacteria and fungi can be closely coupled to the photosynthetic rate of epiphytic algae.

My companion research focus is an outgrowth of the destruction and disturbance that have beset virtually all wetlands in the continental United States, e.g., 56% of all U.S. wetlands are already drained, filled or dredged. Of the remaining wetlands, two of the more subtle, but insidious, forms of disturbances involve sedimentation and invasive species. Past publications include the effects of sedimentation on wetland seedbanks, emergent plant decay, and wetland benthic macroinvertebrates. With respect to invasives, we have focused on the influence of purple loosestrife on wetland seedbanks and wetland plant competition.

Select Publications

Kuehn, K.A. B.M. Ohsowski, S.N. Francoeur, and R.K. Neely. 2011. Contributions of fungi to carbon and nutrient cycling from standing-dead Typha angustifolia litter in a temperate freshwater marsh. Limnology and Oceanography 11:529-539.

S.N. Francoeur, A.C. Johnson, K.A. Kuehn, and R.K. Neely. 2007. Evaluation of the efficacy of the photosystem II inhibitor DCMU in periphyton and its effects on non-target microorganisms and extracellular enzymatic reactions. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 26:633-641.

Su, R., R.N. Lohner, Kuehn, K., R. Sinsabaugh, R.K. Neely. 2007. Microbial dynamics associated with decomposing Typha angustifolia litter in two contrasting Lake Erie coastal wetlands. Aquatic Microbial Ecology 46:295-307.

Francoeur, S.N., M. Schaecher, R. K. Neely, and K.A. Kuehn. 2006. Periphytic photosynthetic stimulation of extracellular enzyme activity in microbial communities associated with decaying Typha litter. Microbial Ecology 52:662-669.

Gillis, J.E., K. Kuehn, S.N. Francoeur, and R.K. Neely. 2006. Application of the 3H-leucine incorporation technique for quantifying bacterial secondary production associated with decaying wetland plant litter. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 72:5948-5956.

Martin, D.C. and R. K. Neely. 2001. Benthic macroinvertebrate response to sedimentation in a freshwater wetland. Wetland Ecology and Management 9:441-454.

Schnitzer, S. and R.K. Neely. 2000. Criticism of the litterbag technique for the study of aquatic plant decay: suppression of epiphytic algal biomass. Archiv für Hydrobiologie 148:433-440.

Dittmar, L.A. and R.K. Neely. 1999. Wetland seedbank response to sedimentation varying in loading rate and texture. Wetlands. 19:341-351.

Vargo, S.M., R.K. Neely and S. Kirkwood. 1998. Emergent plant decomposition and sedimentation: response to sediments varying in texture, phosphorus content and frequency of deposition. Experimental and Environmental Botany 40: 43-58.

Neely, R.K. and R.G. Wetzel. 1995. Simultaneous use of 14C and 3H to determine autotrophic production and bacterial protein production in periphyton. Microbial Ecology 30:1-11.

Courses and Teaching Responsibilities


Because of the interdisciplinary nature of my education, my expertise intersects the disciplines of botany, aquatic science and ecology. Consequently, the courses that I have taught cover a range of limnological and biogeochemical offerings, botanical courses (particularly focused on aquatic plants), and both general and plant ecology.

• General Botany                               • Wetland Ecology

• Plant Ecology                                  • Aquatic Vascular Plants

• Environmental Impact Analysis     • Limnology

• Plant Physiology                             • Environmental Biogeochemistry

• General Ecology                             • Ecosystem Seminars for Graduate Students

• Elements of Ecology (Non-majors)• Field Botany

• Biology of the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador field course)

Project List

page last updated 8/25/2014 5:11 PM