Wading Right InDiscovering the Nature of Wetlands

Wading Right InDiscovering the Nature of Wetlands

Catherine Owen Koning and Sharon M. Ashworth

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780226554211

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Targeted towards a general audience, this book explains the science of wetland ecology through the real-world stories of those who wade into the muck. The book is organized by generalized wetland types based on dominant vegetation, focusing on most of the major wetland types in North America with emphasis on the Midwest and Northeast United States. Freshwater marshes, wet meadows, beaver-dominated wetlands, bogs and fens, vernal pools, wet forests, and salt marshes are described. Tales of mighty efforts to protect rare turtles, restore salt marshes, and preserve sedge meadows become portals through which the reader visits major wetland types and discovers their secrets, while also learning critical ecological lessons. The reader learns that the flora, fauna and functions of all wetlands are determined by climate, hydrology, and soils. The major force that structures the ecological and evolutionary processes in wetlands is hydrology, which often creates low oxygen conditions. The book uncovers the mysteries of wetlands, including valuable “ecosystem services” they provide, such as pollutant removal, flood control, climate change mitigation, etc. The final chapter of the book is about the people who have devoted their lives to understanding and protecting wetlands. Over half of the wetlands in the lower forty-eight U.S. states have been drained, filled, or irrevocably altered, and their stories bring a deeper understanding of how humans come to understand and reverse the negative impacts of human development on wetland ecosystems.