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Lori Sutter

Director of Plant, Water & Soils Lab (Whitehall Phillips Lab Facility)
Research Scientist

Contact Information

Pictured: Lori Sutter

Contact Lori Sutter

Campus address

Whitehall Forest - Phillips Wood Utilization Bldg Room 110
Lab phone number:


Ph.D. Marine Science, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, 2014
M.E.M. Wetland Ecology, Duke University, 1992
B.S. Wildlife & Fisheries, Texas A&M University, 1990

I am broadly interested in the effects of climate change and other stressors on wetland ecology. My research emphasizes the response of tidal marshes to climate change, especially sea-level rise and salt-water intrusion through field measurements, greenhouse experiments, and outdoor laboratory and field manipulations. My overall goal is to better understand the complex feedbacks between plants, animals, and changing physical environments that will ultimately determine marsh resilience to climate change.

Past investigations have asked how tidal marsh vegetation and the interactions between plants and animals respond to changing environmental drivers, particularly sea-level rise. More recently, I'm engaged in efforts to use multi-scale sensors to predict soil carbon content in salt marshes across coastal Georgia. Soil carbon is made by plants that do not fully decompose, and that helps salt marshes maintain their elevation against rising seas. Keeping marshes at higher elevations also protects against erosion. This information is a critical parameter in many scientific efforts, and it could eventually feed models that predict marsh vulnerability to sea-level rise. A related interest of mine is developing better prediction of coastal resilience; by integrating many existing efforts, I'm leading a team effort that will allow wide-scale models to integrate biophysical feedbacks that we measure in different models through extensive field data verification. 

As a former coastal manager, I also hope to help get science in a format and structure that will be useful for current coastal managers. In that vein, I'm testing whether a federal regulatory assessment procedure developed in the Gulf of Mexico is appropriate for use in Georgia by comparing results from that rapid assessment to intensive field sampling conducted on Little Saint Simons Island. I'm also involved in an effort to test whether certain wetland restoration activities in small, depressional wetlands are effective at returning habitat suitable for gopher frogs.


Curriculum Vitae:
Recent Citations:

Huff, D.K., L.A. Morris, L.A. Sutter, J. Costanza and K.D. Pennell. 2020. Accumulation of six PFAS compounds by woody and herbaceous plants: potential for phytoextraction. International Journal of Remediation. 22:1538-1550

Ryland, R., A.T. Thompson, L.A. Sutter and D. Markewitz. 2020. Mapping depth to the argillic horizon on historically farmed soil under forests in the southeastern USA piedmont. Geoderma

Peters, S.J.W., E. Saikawa, D. Markewitz, L.A, Sutter, A. Avramov, Z. Sanders, B. Yosen, K. Wakabayashi, G. Martin, J. Andrews and N.S. Hill. 2020. Soil trace gas fluxes in living mulch and conventional agricultural systems. Journal of Environmental Quality

Batzer, D.B., L.A. Sutter, G. Cordona-Rivera, J. Schmidt, A. Sial. 2019. How wetlands benefit Georgia agriculture. University of Georgia Agricultural Extension Bulletin 1519.

Zhao, D, B. P. Bullock, C. R. Montes, M. Wang, W. D. Greene, and L. A. Sutter. 2019. Loblolly pine outperforms slash pine in the southeastern United States – A long-term experimental comparison study. Forest Ecology and Management 450:117532

Sutter, L.A., R.M. Chambers, M.E. Karp and J.E. Perry, III. 2019. A test of top-down control on plant production and quality in low-salinity tidal marshes. Aquatic Sciences 81:16

Paudel, B., N.B. Weston, J. O’Connor, L.A. Sutter and D.J. Velinsky. 2017. Phosphorus dynamics in the water column and sediments of Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. Journal of Coastal Research 78:60-69

Sutter, L.A., R.C. Gardner and J.E. Perry, III. 2015. Science and policy of U.S. wetlands. Tulane Environmental Law Journal 29: 31-64

Sutter, L.A., N.B. Weston and S.T. Goldsmith. 2015. (invited). Hydraulic fracturing: Potential impacts to wetlands (State of the Science Reports). Wetland Science and Practice 32:7-16

Sutter, L.A., R.M. Chambers and J.E. Perry, III. 2015. Seawater intrusion mediates species transition in low salinity, tidal marsh vegetation. Aquatic Botany 122:32-39

Sutter, L.A., J.E. Perry, III and R.M. Chambers. 2014. Tidal freshwater marsh pant responses to low level salinity increases. Wetlands 34:167-175


Graduate: Wetland Ecology - ENTO/ECOL/PBIO/FANR 8150 & 8150L

Undergraduate: Natural History of Georgia - FANR/ECOL/GEOG 1200

Courses Regularly Taught:

Executive Board (Treasurer): Society of Wetland Scientists

Mentor: Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation Rising TIDES Program