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Samantha Chapman, PhD - Villanova University. Villanova , PA, US

Samantha Chapman, PhD

Professor of Biology | College of Liberal Arts and Sciences | Villanova University


Samantha Chapman, PhD is an Associate Professor with expertise in global change in coastal ecosystems and invasive plant species.






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Areas of Expertise (8)

Coastal Ecosystems


Biodiversity Loss

Climate change effects on coastal wetlands

Invasive Species

Carbon Storage and Sequestration

Climate Change



Climate change, encroaching development, and accelerating environmental degradation of natural habitats pose a serious threat to an increasing number of plant and animal species. Dr. Chapman researches and can discuss leading issues on coastal climate change and possible solutions to biodiversity loss.

Education (3)

Northern Arizona University: PhD

Northern Arizona University: MS

The Pennsylvania State University: BS

Select Accomplishments (4)

Anne Quinn Welsh Honors Faculty Fellow, Villanova University (professional)


Smithsonian Institution Postdoctoral Fellowship (professional)


Selected Participant, National Science Foundation/UMBC ADVANCE Faculty Horizons workshop for aspiring STEM faculty (professional)


Smithsonian Marine Station Link Fellowship (professional)


Affiliations (5)

  • Member of NASA Climate Adaptation Science Investigators Group
  • Board of Directors, Soil Ecology Society
  • Christmas Tree Farms and Soil Carbon Storage: A North American Carbon Program (NACP) Affiliated Project
  • Smithsonian Marine Science Network
  • Editorial Board Member, Ecology; Journal of Ecology

Select Media Appearances (5)

Mangroves common in South Florida are moving north

Axios  online


Floridians are familiar with mangroves—but imagine them moving into Georgia or South Carolina... With the country experiencing fewer freeze events, mangroves that thrive in coastal wetlands are moving into salt marsh habitats at higher latitudes, Villanova University professor Samantha Chapman tells Axios.

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Beached whales, disappearing crabs—what’s happening to our oceans?

KYW Newsradio  


Over the past few months, more than a dozen dead whales have washed up along the New York and New Jersey coasts... Part of the whale problem starts with the population itself. While humans have made significant strides in reviving the population, the majority of whales that are stranding are ones that are in bigger groups, according to Villanova University biology professor Dr. Samantha Chapman.

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Scientists say mangroves have important role in combatting climate change



Climate change is extending the range of mangroves. The tropical trees are thriving farther north and south than ever before. Scientists say that's actually helping limit damage during hurricanes. Villanova University biologist Samantha Chapman predicts warming could push the upper most range of mangroves up to Georgia within the next decade.

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Protecting the world's wetlands: 5 essential reads

The Conversation  online


Mangroves are actually benefiting from climate change in some regions, such as Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. Villanova University biologist Samantha Chapman has found that mangroves are becoming more abundant in these areas, moving into zones formerly dominated by salt marshes, which typically are found in cooler zones.

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Global Warning

WHYY Philadelphia Public Radio  radio


Piece begins at 39:20. We’re talking about climate change. The new UN report states that humans have to take serious action to reduce warming within the next ten years or face some dire consequences… here’s a candidate that could help form a barrier against rising seas: mangroves. “So they’re those trees that look kind of like jungle gyms.” That’s Villanova biologist Samantha Chapman. She studies wetland ecosystems, including mangroves.

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Research Grants (5)

The influence of mangrove invasion and rising temperatures on belowground processes in coastal ecosystems

National Science Foundation 

2017-2020, Ecosystem Science Principal Investigator with Co-PIs M. Hester, J. Morris, A. Langley and C. Feller.

Mangroves marching northward: the impacts of rising seas and temperatures on ecosystems at Kennedy Space Center


2012-205, with extension to 2016. Principal Investigator with I.C. Feller, J.A. Langley and W. Walker.

Interactions of invasive insects, wildfire and climate change: Mechanisms, processes and adaptations on forest productivity, composition and decline

USDA Forest Service RSJVA 

2010-2014 Principal Investigator with J. Hom.

Manipulating plant and microbial resource environment to optimize oil degradation in coastal marshes


2010-2012 Co-Principal Investigator with J.A. Langley.

Christmas Trees and Soil Carbon Storage: Maximizing Ecosystem Management and Sustainability in A Future Carbon Economy


2008-2010, extension to 2012. Principal Investigator with J.A. Langley.

Select Academic Articles (5)

Mangrove trees outperform saltmarsh grasses in building elevation but collapse rapidly under high rates of sea-level rise

Earth's Future

Morris, J.T., J.A. Langley, W.C. Vervaeke, N. Dix, I.C. Feller, P. Marcum, & S.K. Chapman

2023 Mangrove trees are invading saltmarshes at subtropical ecotones globally, but the consequences of this vegetation shift for ecosystem sustainability remain unknown. Using the Coastal Wetland Equilibrium Model (CWEM) to simulate vegetation survival and sediment accretion, we predict that black mangroves, Avicennia germinans, can build soil elevation by 8 mm yr−1, four times greater than saltmarshes at the same site, a finding that is broadly consistent with field measurements of elevation change.

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Nitrogen Addition Increases Freeze Resistance in Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans) Shrubs in a Temperate-Tropical Ecotone


Feller, I.C. U. Berger, S.K. Chapman, E.M. Dangremond, N.G. Dix, J.A. Langley. C.E. Lovelock, T.Z. Osborne, A.C. Shor, & L.T. Simpson

2023 In response to a warmer climate and fewer killing freezes, mangroves are currently expanding into saltmarshes. However, the speed of the transition from saltmarsh to mangrove can also be modified by extreme events and nutrient subsidies. In a fertilization experiment along the Atlantic coast of North America, we found that nitrogen addition altered plant traits in Avicennia, which increased their resistance to freezing temperatures.

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Impacts and effects of ocean warming on tidal marsh and tidal freshwater forest ecosystems

Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. pp. 105-120.

J. Patrick Megonigal, Samantha Chapman, Steve Crooks, Paul Dijkstra, Matt Kirwan, & Adam Langley

2016 Tidal wetland responses to warming involve complex feedbacks between plants, microbes and physical processes, the balance of which will ultimately determine if these ecosystems can keep pace with accelerated sea-level rise. Plant primary production is likely to increase with warming based on evidence from latitudinal gradients of tidal marsh biomass and experimental manipulations.

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Impacts of soil nitrogen and carbon additions on forest understory communities with a long nitrogen deposition history


Samantha K. Chapman, Kathryn A. Devine, Courtney Curran, Rachel O. Jones, & Frank S. Gilliam

2016 Rates of nitrogen (N) deposition have been historically high throughout much of the northeastern United States; thus, understanding the legacy of these high N loads is important for maintaining forest productivity and resilience. Though many studies have documented plant invasions due to N deposition and associated impacts on ecosystems, less is known about whether invasive plants will continue to increase in dominance with further shifting nutrient regimes. Using soil N and carbon additions, we examined the impact of both increasing and decreasing soil N on native and invasive understory plant dynamics over 4 years in a northeastern deciduous forest with a long history of N deposition. Despite applying large quantities of N, we found no difference in soil nitrate (NO3) or ammonium (NH4 +) pools in N addition plots over the course of the study.

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Mangrove range expansion rapidly increases coastal wetland carbon storage

Estuaries and Coasts

Cheryl L. Doughty, J. Adam Langley, Wayne S. Walker, Ilka C. Feller, Ronald Schaub, & Samantha K. Chapman

2016 The climate change-induced expansion of mangroves into salt marshes could significantly alter the carbon (C) storage capacity of coastal wetlands, which have the highest average C storage per land area among unmanaged terrestrial ecosystems. Mangrove range expansion is occurring globally, but little is known about how these rapid climate-driven shifts may alter ecosystem C storage. Here, we quantify current C stocks in ecotonal wetlands across gradients of marsh- to mangrove-dominance, and use unique chronological maps of vegetation cover to estimate C stock changes from 2003 to 2010 in a 567-km wildlife refuge in the mangrove-salt marsh ecotone. We report that over the 7-yr. period, total wetland C stocks increased 22 % due to mangrove encroachment into salt marshes. Newly established mangrove stands stored twice as much C on a per area basis as salt marsh primarily due to differences in aboveground biomass, and mangrove cover increased by 69 % during this short time interval. Wetland C storage within the wildlife refuge increased at a rate of 2.7 Mg C ha yr., more than doubling the naturally high coastal wetland C sequestration rates. Mangrove expansion could account for a globally significant increase of terrestrial C storage, which may exert a considerable negative feedback on warming.

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