Mary Anne Evans


Mary Anne Evans is a scientist at the USGS Great Lakes Science Center where she contributes to the coastal ecology program. Her current research focuses on river influences in western Lake Erie, associated harmful algal blooms (HABs), nutrient and algal dynamics in other river influenced nearshore areas of the Great Lakes, and mathematical modeling of coastal eutrophication and hypoxia. Prior to joining the USGS, she studied hypoxic “dead zones” in Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico as a post-doctoral scientist at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment and recreational lakes in Michigan as a post-doctoral scientist at Michigan State University. She received her Ph.D. in biology from the University of Michigan, studying the phytoplankton ecology of arctic lakes.



Research Summary

My research explores the interaction of physical and biological processes that control ecosystem functions.  I am especially interested in controls of phytoplankton primary productivity and biomass.  Understanding the regulation of primary producers is integral to predicting, managing, and conserving ecosystem function, especially for systems impacted by both local human stresses and global climate change.  In addition, large accumulations of algal biomass, either of toxic species or leading to decomposition induced hypoxia, can be detrimental to human use of aquatic resources.  The conditions necessary for such harmful algal blooms (HABs) and hypoxic events are predicted to increase under climate change scenarios; thus, understanding their controls will be increasingly important to ecosystem management. 

My approach to research is to combine field studies with mathematical modeling.  I use numerical models to explore a broader range of mechanistic variability than is practical in field experiments, while, at the same time, I use field data to test model predictions.  In this way, each approach informs the other, allowing for more robust and general conclusions that may be extrapolated across aquatic ecosystems. 


Ph.D., 2007 University of Michigan, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Ann Arbor, MI.  Dissertation title “Phytoplankton Ecology of Arctic Lakes”    

M.S.,  2001 University of Michigan, Department of Biology, Ann Arbor, MI

B.S.,  1999  Summa cum laude, University of Louisville, Department of Biology, Louisville, KY.  Honors thesis “The effects of elevated NO3 deposition on nitrogen retention in forest soils “

Positions held (since 1999):

Research Ecologist, 2012 – present, Great Lakes Science Center, United States Geological Survey.

Post Doctoral Research Fellow, 2009-2012, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan.

Post Doctoral Researcher, 2007-2009, Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan State University.

Post Doctoral Researcher, 2007, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan.

Research Assistant, 2002, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan.

Graduate Student Instructor, 1999 to 2005, Department of Biology, University of Michigan.




N. S. Bosch, M. A. Evans, D. Scavia, and J. D. Allan. 2014. Interacting effects of climate change and agricultural BMPs on nutrient runoff entering Lake Erie. Journal of Great Lakes Research 40(3): 581-589

Scavia, D., J. D. Allan, K. K. Arend, S. Bartell, D. Beletsky, N. S. Bosch, S. B. Brandt, R.D. Briland, I. Daloglu, J. V. DePinto, D. M. Dolan, M. A. Evans, D. Goto, H. Han, T. O. Hook, R. Knight, S. A. Ludsin, D. Mason, A. M. Michalak, P. R. Richards, J. J. Roberts, D. K. Rucinski, E. Rutherford, D. J. Schwab, Timothy Sesterhenn, Hongyan Zhang, Yuntao Zhou.  2014. Assessing the re-eutrophication of Lake Erie: Focus on hypoxia in the central basin. Journal of Great Lakes Research 40 (2014) 226–246. DOI: 10.1016/j.jglr.2014.02.004

D. Scavia, M. A. Evans, and D. R. Obenour.  2013. A Scenario and Forecast Model for Gulf of Mexico Hypoxic Area and Volume.  Environmental Science and Technology 47 (18): 10423–10428. DOI: 10.1021/es4025035

Michalak, A.M., E. Anderson, D. Beletsky, S. Boland, N.S. Bosch, T.B. Bridgeman, J.D. Chaffin, K.H. Cho, R. Confesor, I. Daloğlu, J. DePinto, M.A. Evans, G.L. Fahnenstiel, L. He, J.C. Ho, L. Jenkins, T. Johengen, K.C. Kuo, E. Laporte, X. Liu, M. McWilliams, M.R. Moore, D.J. Posselt, R.P. Richards, D. Scavia, A.L. Steiner, E. Verhamme, D.M. Wright, M.A. Zagorski. 2013. The 2011 Lake Erie harmful algal bloom: Perfect storm or harbinger of future conditions? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110(16): 6448–6452.

M.A. Evans, D. Scavia. 2013. Exploring estuary sensitivity to eutrophication and hypoxia. Limnology & Oceanography 58(2): 569–578

M. A. Evans, G.A. Fahnenstiel, and D. Scavia. 2011. Incidental oligotrophication of North American Great Lakes.  Environmental Science and Technology 45(8): 3297–3303. DOI: 10.1021/es103892w

M. A. Evans and D. Scavia. 2010. Forecasting hypoxia in the Chesapeake Bay and Gulf of Mexico: Model accuracy, precision, and sensitivity to ecosystem change. Environmental Research Letters 6: 015001

C. R. Johnson, C. Luecke, S. C. Whalen, M. A. Evans. 2010. Importance of nitrogen and phosphorus excretion by fish and zooplankton to phytoplankton production in arctic Alaskan lakes. Freshwater Biology 67: 1635–1648

Liu, Y, M.A. Evans, D. Scavia. 2010 Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia: Exploring Increasing Sensitivity to Nitrogen Loads. Environmental Science and Technology 44(15): 5836-5841

M. A. Evans, S. MacIntyre, G. W. Kling. 2008. Internal wave effects on photosynthesis: experiments, theory, and modeling. Limnology & Oceanography 53(1): 339-353

J. Vandermeer, M. A. Evans, P. Foster, T. Höök, M. Reiskind, M. Wund. 2002. Increased competition may promote species coexistence.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 99:8731-8736