Sean Patrick Charles

Postdoctoral Research Scholar

Office: Room No. 350
850 NC 345, Wanchese, NC

Phone: (252) 475-5460



Sean is a postdoctoral researcher in the Coasts and Ocean Observing Laboratory at CSI.  He grew up in the marshes and swamps of Virginia and continues to focus on coastal wetland ecology.  Sean has a double major in English Literature and Environmental Science from The College of William and Mary, a master’s in Marine Biology from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and a Ph.D. from Florida International University. Sean’s research has focused on plant-soil interactions in coastal ecosystems, restoration, and disturbance ecology.

Sean lives in the Outer Banks, where he enjoys spending time on the water (surfing and kayaking), gardening, and playing soccer.


PhD., Biology, Florida International University, Miami FL, August 2013- August 2018

M.S., Marine Science, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, The College of William and Mary, Gloucester Point, VA, 2013

B.A., Double Major in Environmental Science and Policy and English, The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg VA, 2007

Research Interests

Dr. Charles studies the ecology of coastal ecosystems and in particular the impact of climate change, cyclones, and anthropogenic impacts on ecosystem structure and function.  His primary interest is in maximizing the ecosystem services provided by coastal wetlands.

Current Projects

Quantifying the drivers of elevation change and sources of sediment deposition in Currituck Sound, NC

Identifying mangrove damage and recovery from tropical cyclones across the Caribbean

Mapping change in mangrove extent and carbon storage across the state of Florida



Khandker S. Ishtiaq, Tiffany G. Troxler, Lukas Lamb-Wotton, Benjamin J. Wilson, Sean P. Charles, Stephen E. Davis, John S. Kominoski, David T. Rudnick , and Fred H. Sklar. 2022. Modeling net ecosystem carbon balance and loss in coastal wetlands exposed to sea level rise and saltwater intrusion. Ecological Applications.

Anthony D. Campbell, Temilola Fatoyinbo, Sean P. Charles, Laura L. Bourgeau-Chavez,

Joaquim Goes, Helga Gomes, Meghan Halabisky, James Holmquist, Steven Lohrenz, Catherine Mitchell, L. Monika Moskal, Benjamin Poulter, Han Qiu, Celio H. Resende De Sousa, Michael Sayers, Marc Simard, Anthony J. Stewart, Debjani Singh, Carl Trettin, Jinghui Wu, Xuesong Zhang, and David Lagomasino. 2022. A Review of Carbon Monitoring in Wet Carbon Systems. Environmental Research Letters, 17 025009.  

Kuhn, L. A., J. S. Kominoski, A. R. Armitage, S. P. Charles, S. C. Pennings. C. A. Weaver, T. R. Maddox. 2021. Hidden hurricane legacies; elevated sulfide and decreased root biomass in coastal wetlands. Ecosphere, 12 (8), e03674. 

Charles, S. P., J. S. Kominoski, A. R. Armitage, C. Weaver, H. Guo, S. C. Pennings. 2020. Mangroves increase organic carbon storage in an experimental marsh-mangrove gradient despite reduced marine subsidies. Ecology, 101 (2), e02916.

Charles, S. P., J. S. Kominoski, T. G. Troxler, E. E. Gaiser, S. M. Servais, B. J. Wilson, S.E. Davis, F.H. Sklar, C. Coronado-Molina, C.J. Madden, S. Kelly, D.T. Rudnick. 2019. Experimental saltwater intrusion drives rapid soil elevation loss and long-term reduction in carbon accumulation in coastal wetlands. Estuaries and Coasts, 42 (7), 1868-1881.

Mazzei, V., B. J. Wilson, S. Servais, S. P. Charles, J. S. Kominoski, E. E. Gaiser. 2020. Periphyton as an indicator of saltwater intrusion into freshwater wetlands: insights from experimental manipulations. Ecological Applications, 30 (3), e02067.

Wilson, B. J., S. Servais, S. P. Charles, V. Mazzei, J. S. Kominoski, E. Gaiser, J. Richards, T.

Troxler. 2019. Phosphorus alleviation of salinity stress: effects of saltwater intrusion on an Everglades Freshwater peat marsh. Ecology, 100 (5).

Servais, S., J. S. Kominoski, S. P. Charles, E. E. Gaiser, V. Mazzei, T. G. Troxler, B. J. Wilson. 2019. Saltwater intrusion and soil carbon loss: Testing effects of salinity and phosphorus loading on microbial functions in experimental freshwater wetlands. Geoderma, 337: 1291-1300.

Wilson, B. J., S. Servais, S. P. Charles, S. E. Davis, E. E. Gaiser, J. S. Kominoski, J. H. Richards, and T. G. Troxler. 2018. Declines in plant productivity drive carbon loss from brackish coastal wetland mesocosms exposed to saltwater intrusion. Estuaries and Coasts, 41(8): 21472158. 

Troxler, T. G., G. Starr, J. N. Boyer, J. D. Fuentes, R. Jaffe [et al., including Charles, S. P.].

Carbon cycles in the Florida Coastal Everglades socio-ecological system across scales. Pages 124- 152. In D. L. Childers, E. Gaiser, L. Ogden, editors. The Coastal Everglades: The Dynamics of Social-ecological Transformation in the South Florida Landscape. 2018. Oxford University Press.  

Djukic, I. S. Kepfer-Rojas, I. K. Schmidt, K. S. Larsen, C. Beier, B. Berg, K. Verheyen [et al., including Charles, S. P.]. 2018. Early stage litter decomposition across biomes. Science of the Total Environment, 628-629: 1369-1394.

Guo, H., C. Weaver, S. P. Charles, S. C. Pennings, S. Dastidar, P. D’Odorico, J. D. Fuentes, Z. Hughes, A. R. Armitage, C. Weaver, A. Whitt, J. S. Komioski, S. C. Pennings. Coastal Regime Shifts: Rapid response of coastal wetlands to changes in mangrove cover.  2017. Ecology, 98: 762-772. 

Charles, S. P. Soybean Demand Continues to Drive Production. 2008. Vital Signs: Global trends that shape our future 2007- 2008. WorldWatch Institute Press.  

In Revision:

John S. Kominoski, Scott C. Neubauer, Ryan Bremen, Antonio Camacho, Alba CamachoSantamans, Sean P. Charles, Julia A. Cherry, Evelyn E. Gaiser, Keryn Gedan, Ashley M. Helton,Ellen R. Herbert, Khandker S. Ishtiaq, Matthew L. Kirwan, Ken W. Krauss, Lukas Lamb-Wotton,Daniel Morant, Gregory B. Noe, Michael J. Osland, Elena Solohin, Tiffany G. Troxler, Kate L. Tully, Benjamin J. Wilson. Salinity reduces coastal marsh respiration more than photosynthesis. Pre-Print. Nature.

Amaral, C., B. Poulter, D. Lagomasino, T. Fatoyinbo, P. Taillie, G. Lizcano, J A Silveira, C Teutli-Hernandez, S. Canty, M. Cifuentes, Sean P. Charles, R. M. Coastal development and climate pressures drive mangrove response to cyclones. Submitted. Global Change Biology.

Lagomasino, D., Sean P. Charles, T. Fatoyinbo, A. Payton, A. Leach and R. M. Roman-Cuesta. Increase in tropical cyclones leads to decreased recovery in Caribbean mangrove forests. Submitted. Science.

Charles, S. P., J. S. Kominoski, D. Lagomasino, J. M. Smoak, H. Campen. Quantifying changes in carbon storage with saltwater intrusion along a marsh-mangrove chronosequence along a marsh-mangrove gradient. In Revision. Ecosystems

Charles, S. P., J. S. Kominoski, M. S. Ross. J. P. Sah, J. F. Meeder, L. J. Scinto. Soil organic stocks decrease with saltwater intrusion despite mangrove encroachment in freshwater deprived Everglades Wetlands. In Preparation for Estuaries and Coasts.  

Charles, S. P., D. Lagomasino, A. Payton, K. Radabaugh, E. Castaneda, R. Moyer, J. M. Smoak, T. Fatoyinbo.  Mangroves gain area, but lose carbon across the State of Florida, USA as mangroves migrate inland. In preparation for Remote Sensing. 

Led by East Carolina University (ECU), The Coastal Studies Institute is a multi-institutional research and educational partnership of the UNC System including North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Wilmington, and Elizabeth City State University.



Based at the Coastal Studies Institute (CSI), the North Carolina Renewable Ocean Energy Program (NCROEP) advances inter-disciplinary marine energy solutions across UNC System partner colleges of engineering at NC State University, UNC Charlotte, and NC A&T University.  Click on the links below for more information.




ECU's Integrated Coastal Programs (ECU ICP) is a leader in coastal and marine research, education, and engagement.   ECU ICP includes the Coastal Studies Institute, ECU's Department of Coastal Studies, and ECU Diving and Water Safety.


The faculty and staff at the Coastal Studies Institute come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, as well as departments and organizations including ECU Department of Biology, ECU Department of Coastal Studies, NC Sea Grant, the North Carolina Renewable Energy Program, and the UNC Institute for the Environment.


Tour the ECU Outer Banks Campus and learn about the research, education, and engagement projects of CSI and ECU Integrated Coastal Programs through our 360 virtual tour.


The ECU Outer Banks campus is home to the Coastal Studies Institute.
Located on Roanoke Island along the banks of the second largest estuary
in the United States, this coastal campus spans 213 acres of marshes, scrub wetlands, forested wetlands, and estuarine ecosystems.