Charles Tilburg


PhD in Oceanography

Florida State University


MS in Environmental Engineering

University of Texas


BS in Aerospace Engineering

University of Texas


Post-Doctoral Training

College of Marine Studies

University of Delaware



Physical oceanography

numerical modeling

coastal oceanography

larval transport

river plume dynamics


Current Research

I am the Principal Investigator on a NASA sponsored project to examine water quality in the Saco River. I am also a co-Principal Investigator on the Saco River Coastal Observing System which examines the physical factors that influence the Saco River plume, transport in the region, and salinity fluctuations. I am co-Principal Investigator on a National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored project to examine the transport of blue mussel larvae in the Gulf of Maine and a GK-12 NSF project to improve the communication skills of graduate students.

Research Interests

The circulation of estuaries and the coastal ocean. I am particularly interested in climate change and the physical factors that govern the distribution of river plumes, the transport of crab, fish, and mussel larvae, and across-shelf transport on the continental shelf. My work involves a combination of field observations, remote-sensing techniques, and numerical modeling.

Selected Publications

Tilburg, C. E., L. M. Jordan, A. E. Carlson, S. I. Zeeman, and P. O. Yund, The effects of precipitation, river discharge, land use and coastal circulation on water quality in coastal Maine, Royal Society Open Science, 2, 140429., 2015.  

Bloodsworth, K. H., C. E. Tilburg, and P. O. Yund, Influence of a river plume on the distribution of Brachyuran crab and Mytilid bivalve larvae in Saco Bay, Maine, Estuaries and Coasts, doi: 10.1007/s12237-015-9951-5, 2015.

Cohen, J. H., C. K. Hanson, A. I. Dittel, D. C. Miller and C. E. Tilburg, The ontogeny of larval swimming behavior in the crab Hemigrapsus sanguineus: implications for larval transport, Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 462, 20-28, 2015.

Hillman, S. J., K. H. Bloodsworth, C. E. Tilburg, S. I. Zeeman, and H. E. List, K-12 Students’ Perception of Scientists:  Finding a valid measurement and exploring whether exposure to scientists make an impact, International Journal of Science Education, doi: 10.1080/09500693.2014.908264 2014.

Tilburg, C. E., M. A. McCartney, and P. O. Yund, Across-shelf transport of bivalve larvae:  Can the interface between a coastal current and inshore waters act as an ecological barrier to larval dispersal?, PLoS ONE, 7(11): e48960. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048960, 2012.

Tilburg, C. E., A. I. Dittel, D. C. Miller, and C. E. Epifanio, Transport and retention of the mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis) in a Mid-Atlantic estuary: Predictions from a larval transport model, Journal of Marine Research, 69, 137-165, 2011a.

Tilburg, C. E., S. Gill, S. I. Zeeman, A. Carlson, T. Arienti, J. Eickhorst, and P. O. Yund, Characteristics of a shallow river plume: Observations from the Saco River Coastal Observing System, Estuaries and Coasts, 34, 785-799, 2011.

Tilburg, C. E., J. Seay, T. D. Bishop, H. L. Miller III, and C. Meile, Distribution and retention of Petrolisthes armatus in a coastal plain estuary: the role of vertical movement in larval transport, Estuarine, Coastal, and Shelf Science, 88, 260-266, 2010.

Bishop, T. D., H. L. Miller III, R. L. Walker, D. H. Hurley, T. Menken, and C. E. Tilburg, Blue crab (Callinectes sapidus Rathbun, 1896) settlement at three Georgia (USA) estuarine sites, Estuaries and Coasts, 33, 688-698, 2010.

Houghton, R. W., R. Chant, A. Rice, and C. E. Tilburg, Salt flux into coastal river plumes: Dye studies in the Delaware and Hudson River outflow, Journal of Marine Research, 67, 731-756, 2009.

Wargo, A. M., C. E. Tilburg, W.B. Driggers, and J. A. Sulikowski, Effect of a freshwater plume on icthyoplankton distribution off the coast of southern Maine, Northeastern Naturalist, 16, 647-654, 2009.

Tilburg, C. E., A. I. Dittel, and C. E. Epifanio, High concentrations of crab larvae along the offshore edge of a coastal current:  Effects of convergent circulation, Fisheries Oceanography, 18, 135-146, 2009.

Funded Grants

2011: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration _ Delaware Sea Grant Program, Invasion of the mitten crab in the Mid-Atlantic: Characterizing larval behavior to predict population responses to environmental change, $130k, 2 years.

2010: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration _ Delaware Sea Grant Program, Invasion of the mitten crab in the Mid-Atlantic: Characterizing larval behavior to predict responses to climate change, $63k, 1 year.

2010: National Science Foundation _ Biological Oceanography Program, Collaborative Research: Does larval transport or physiological tolerance set the southern range boundary of a northern blue mussel? $431k, 3 years.

2009: National Science Foundation _ Biological Oceanography Program _ Research Opportunity Award Physical processes influencing variability in abundance of Calanus finmarchicus in the Gulf of Maine, $25k, 1 year.

2009: National Science Foundation _ GK-12 Program The Interactions of Biology, Chemistry and Physics at the Land-Ocean Interface: A Systemic PARTnership Aimed at Connecting University and School (SPARTACUS), $2.8M, 5 years.

2009: National Aeronautics and Space Administration - Influence of climate change on regional hydrology and public health, $94k, 2 years.

Research Topics

Charles Tillburg

Charles Tilburg



Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

Professor, Department of Marine Sciences

Decary Hall

(207) 602-2130

On Campus