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Courtney T Hackney

Retiree Emeritus | Director of Coastal Biology

Biology | College of Arts & Sciences

Areas of Expertise

Research:  Wetlands, Sea Level Rise, general Coastal Ecology and coastal development

Teaching:  My current teaching emphasis is directed toward helping the general public and non-Biology majors understand how the natural world works, especially the role humans play in shaping our world. This is now done through a Special Application course for non-majors, which I am teaching focusing on Human Ecology. Graduate courses (not yet listed in the catalog) include Estuarine Ecology and Coastal Ecosystems. These courses are designed to acquaint graduate students with the basic biological, physical, chemical, and geological conditions of the coastal terrestrial, and aquatic environments and provide an introduction into management of these natural systems. In addition, I will be participating in summer teaching programs for teachers and middle school students.


B.S. University of South Alabama, 1970
M.S. (Biology) Emory University, 1973
Ph.D. (Zoology, Wildlife & Fisheries, minor) Mississippi State University, 1977


Two research interests have governed my work during the past 30 years. The first is the response of tidal wetlands to sea level rise and salt intrusion. Initially, my focus was on individual plant and animal species and their ecological role in tidal ecosystems, but increasingly my focus has shifted to the entire biotic community. Recent studies have focused on the community change associated with pulses of saline water into tidal swamps in the Southeastern U.S. Understanding this response is key to evaluating the impact humans will have on coastal water quality, fish and shrimp populations, and commercial fisheries as humans alter natural flows in rivers and tidal channels. My second research interest relates to coastal ecosystems, especially wetland communities, and the impact humans have and are having on those systems. This has led to service on a variety of state and federal regulatory and advisory boards. Most recently this interest has joined with my interest in sea level rise when dredging an estuary and port led to an upstream increase in tidal flooding. Current research began in 1999 and continues today. Summary reports are available at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Wilmington, NC website. Current research centers on the soil community in tidal swamps and carbon flux from these soils.

Publications & Presentations

Hackney, C.T.,, G.B. Avery, L.A. Leonard, M. Posey, and T. Alphin. 2007 Biological, chemical, and physical characteristics of tidal freshwater swamp forests of the lower Cape Fear River/Estuary, North Carolina, Chapter 8, In, Conner, W.H., T.W. Doyle, and K.W. Krauss, eds. Ecology of Tidal Freshwater Forested Wetlands in the Southeastern United States. Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.

Conner, W.H., C.T. Hackney, K.W. Krauss, and J.W. Day, Jr. 2007. Tidal Freshwater Forested Wetlands: Future Research Needs and an Overview of Restoration. Chapter 17, In W. H. Conner, T. W. Doyle, and K. W. Krauss (eds.) Ecology of Tidal Freshwater Forested Wetlands of the Southeastern United States. Springer-Verlag.Conner, W.H.,

Hyland, J.L., W.L. Balthis, M. Posey, C.T. Hackney, and T. Alphin. 2004. The soft-bottom macrobenthos of North Carolina estuaries. Estuaries 27:501-514.
Hackney, C. T. Restoration of coastal habitats: expectation and reality. 2000. Ecological Engineering 15:165-170.

Hackney, C.T., D.E. Padgett, and M.H. Posey. 2000. Fungal and bacterial contribution to the decomposition of Cladium and Typha leaves in nutrient enriched and nutrient poor areas of the Everglades, with a note on ergosterol concentrations in Everglades soils. Mycological Research 104:666-670.

Hackney, C.T., L.B. Cahoon, C. Preziosi and A. Norris. 2000. Silicon is the link between tidal marshes and estuarine fisheries: a new paradigm, pages 537-546 in Concepts and Controversies in Tidal Marsh Ecology. M. Weinstein and K. Kreeger, eds., Klewer Press.

Hyland, J.L., W.L. Balthis, C.T. Hackney, and M. Posey. 2000. Sediment quality of North Carolina estuaries: An integrative assessment of sediment contamination, toxicity, and condition of benthic fauna. Journal of Aquatic Ecosystem Stress and Recovery 8:107-124.

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