Ecology of Freshwater and Estuarine Wetlands / Edition 1

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Overview


"An exciting new wetlands book with an international flavor that provides a synthesis of basic and applied research. Written by experts in the field the volume focuses on ecosystem processes, plant and animal ecology and wetland restoration."—Curtis J. Richardson, Director of the Duke University Wetland Center.

"An excellent interdisciplinary team provides a fresh synthesis that has continuity among chapters, is refreshingly honest and cautionary, and is responsive to societal pressures and opportunities. A road forward from society's dismal swamp of past behaviors and missed opportunities."—R. Eugene Turner, Louisiana State University

"There's everything here from biogeography, climate change, wetland soils and hydrology to descriptions of wetland types and their biota viruses, bacteria, all the way up to the charismatic megafauna and megaflora, to chapters on wetland regulation and policy, restoration, and biodiversity."—Stephen Threlkeld, University of Mississippi

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The editors are to be highly commended for . . . the straightforward and honest writing style that continually weaves its way throughout this text."--Ecology

"Provides a comprehensive introduction to the great ecological breadth and complexity that wetlands exhibit ranging from microbial process to biogeography and global climate."--Wetlands

Ecology - Mark W. Hester

“The editors are to be highly commended for . . . the straightforward and honest writing style that continually weaves its way throughout this text.”
Wetlands

“Provides a comprehensive introduction to the great ecological breadth and complexity that wetlands exhibit ranging from microbial process to biogeography and global climate.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520247772
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 1/8/2007
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 581
  • Sales rank: 1,379,134
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author


Darold Batzer is Professor of Entomology at the University of Georgia. He is the coeditor of Invertebrates in Freshwater Wetlands of North America and Bioassessment and Management of North American Freshwater Wetlands and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Wetlands. Rebecca Sharitz is Professor of Plant Biology at the University of Georgia and Senior Ecologist at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. She is the coeditor of Freshwater Wetlands and Wildlife.
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Read an Excerpt

Ecology of Freshwater and Estuarine Wetlands


University of California Press

Copyright © 2006 Regents of the University of California
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-520-24777-2


Chapter One

ECOLOGY OF FRESHWATER AND ESTUARINE WETLANDS An Introduction

Darold P. Batzer and Rebecca R. Sharitz

WHAT IS A WETLAND?

The study of wetland ecology can entail an issue that rarely needs consideration by terrestrial or aquatic ecologists, and that is the need to define the habitat. What exactly constitutes a wetland may not always be clear. Thus, it seems appropriate to begin by defining the word wetland. The Oxford English Dictionary says, "Wetland (F. wet a. + land n.)-an area of land that is usually saturated with water, often a marsh or swamp." While covering the basic pairing of the words wet and land, this definition is rather ambiguous. Does "usually saturated" mean at least half of the time? That would omit many seasonally flooded habitats that most would consider wetlands. Under this definition, it also seems that lakes or rivers could be considered wetlands. A more refined definition is clearly needed for wetland science or policy.

Because defining wetland is especially important in terms of policy, it is not surprising that governmental agencies began to develop the first comprehensive definitions (see Chapter 9). One influential definition was derived for the U. S. Fish and WildlifeService (USFWS) (Cowardin et al. 1979):

Wetlands are lands transitional between terrestrial and aquatic systems where the water table is usually at or near the surface or the land is covered by shallow water. Wetlands must have one or more of the following three attributes: (1) at least periodically, the land supports predominately hydrophytes; (2) the substrate is predominantly undrained hydric soil; and (3) the substrate is nonsoil and is saturated with water or covered by shallow water at some time during the growing season of each year.

This USFWS definition emphasizes the importance of hydrology, soils, and vegetation, which you will see is a recurring theme in wetland definitions. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the primary permitting agency for wetlands of the United States, adopted a slightly different wording:

The term "wetlands" means those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas.

This definition also incorporates hydrology, soils, and vegetation but is more restrictive than the USFWS definition. The USACE definition requires all three features to be present, while the USFWS Cowardin definition indicates that only one of the three conditions needs to occur. Despite its exclusive nature, the USACE definition has been adopted as the authority to define legal (or jurisdictional) wetlands of the United States.

However, as ecologists, we must realize that legal definitions may not cover all habitats that function ecologically as wetlands. For example, mud flats devoid of vegetation, floodplains that primarily flood in winter outside the "growing season," and flooded areas of floodplains where anoxic soil conditions do not develop (Figure 1.1) are all probably ecological wetlands but may not fit the legal definition. In Georgia, we have seen floodplains repeatedly covered by as much as 1 m of water, yet competent delineators following USACE criteria determined that these habitats did not meet the legal definition of a wetland (B. Pruitt, personal conversation). However, the determination that these floodplains were legally "terrestrial" did not affect the responses of soil-dwelling arthropods and herbaceous plants that were covered by the water nor the functioning of waterfowl or fish that were swimming and feeding in those habitats. While definitions serve a purpose, especially for regulation (see Chapter 9), ecologists should not be constrained by definition when studying wetlands. Nonetheless, for ecologists seeking a biologically useful definition for wetlands, we recommend the simple, straightforward, yet inclusive, definition put forward by Paul Keddy (2000):

A wetland is an ecosystem that arises when inundation by water produces soils dominated by anaerobic processes and forces the biota, particularly rooted plants, to exhibit adaptations to tolerate flooding.

WHY ARE WETLANDS IMPORTANT?

Wetlands comprise only about 6% of the earth's surface, but ecologically they are disproportionately important. For example, 25% of the plant species in Malaysia occur in only one wetland type, peat swamps (Anderson 1983), and almost 10% of the world's fish fauna occurs in the Amazon basin (Groombridge and Jenkins 1998). Because wetlands support both terrestrial and aquatic biota, they are unusually diverse (Gopal et al. 2000). Those taxa unique to wetlands will contribute significantly to the overall diversity of regions containing numerous wetlands. Besides supporting the plethora of plants and animals of interest to ecologists and nature enthusiasts, wetlands provide an assortment of ecosystem services of considerable value to all people.

Constanza et al. (1997) estimated the economic values of services provided by the world's ecosystems and found that on a per-hectare basis, estuaries and freshwater floodplains/swamps were the world's two most valuable ecosystem types (Table 1.1). The values of these wetlands to people stem primarily from their roles in nutrient cycling, water supplies, disturbance (flood) regulation, and waste treatment. However, recreation, food production, and cultural (aesthetic, artistic, educational, spiritual, or scientific) values were also important (Constanza et al. 1997). Many of these services are accomplished by wetland biota (microbes, plants, animals). However, despite the value of wetlands, there is a long history of humans destroying or degrading the world's wetland resources.

WETLAND LOSS AND DEGRADATION

The emergence of the field of wetland ecology coincided with the realization in the latter decades of the twentieth century that wetland habitats were disappearing at an alarming rate. By the 1970s, it was estimated that almost half of the wetlands in the lower 48 states of the United States had been filled or drained (Tiner 1984). Productive farmland can be produced by draining wetlands, and hence agriculture was the primary historical threat to wetlands. For example, Figure 1.2 shows the original extent of wetlands (shaded dark) in the state of Minnesota prior to European settlement (early 1800s) and the extent in the latter 1900s. While considerable wetland acreage remains in the forested northeastern portions of Minnesota, most of the wetlands in the agricultural south and west were destroyed. A similar pattern of destruction developed throughout the world. However, more recently in the United States, urban and rural development have eclipsed agriculture as the major threats to wetlands (Dahl 2000).

One doesn't need to be an ecologist to recognize the negative impacts of complete wetland loss. However, recently, the more subtle threat of losing certain wetland functions is now being recognized, and assessing functional change requires the skills of trained ecologists. Concerns have developed about conversion of one wetland type to another. The latest survey of wetlands in the United States (Dahl 2000) indicates that many forested wetlands are being converted into scrub/shrub habitats, often from silvicultural practices. While it may be heartening to know that the wetlands have not been eliminated and that scrub/shrub wetlands are themselves valuable, the functional change associated with such conversion needs to be assessed. In wetland restoration (Chapter 10), we now recognize that not just acreage needs to be conserved or replaced but also important wetland functions. The common past practice of replacing lost wetlands, regardless of type, with small permanent ponds is being discouraged. Instead, mitigation plans that replace functions actually lost are now required.

WHAT THIS BOOK COVERS

Wetland ecology incorporates the interactions of biota (plants, animals, microbes) with the unique physical and chemical environment present in wetlands. Wetlands are foremost geologic features, and geomorphology coupled with climate forms the template on which wetland ecology occurs (Figure 1.3). Hydrology is the factor most influenced by geomorphology and climate, and hydrology is also the primary conduit for the control of the physico-chemical environment and the biotic interactions in wetlands. The contents of this book are organized in recognition of these facts.

The initial chapters address physical aspects of wetland environments. Chapters 2 and 3 present the basics of geomorphology, biogeochemistry, soils, and hydrology in wetlands. Readers will find these straightforward chapters to be a useful foundation to better interpret later chapters on ecology and policy, as the themes of geomorphology, biogeochemistry, and especially hydrology are repeatedly revisited. Chapter 4 addresses how abiotic factors, specifically hydrology and chemistry, constrain wetland plants and animals, and the chapter elaborates on the physiological and ecological strategies employed by biota to cope with those stresses.

The middle chapters of this book focus on the ecology and functioning of key organisms. The discussion of the physical aspects of wetland biogeochemistry in Chapters 2 through 4 lead logically to the microbial themes presented in Chapter 5 because most chemical cycles in wetlands are mediated by microbes, especially bacteria. Plants are the most important organisms in wetlands and probably the best studied. Chapter 6 has the daunting task of covering plant ecology and presents perhaps the most complete discussion in this text of how wetlands function biotically. Chapter 7 presents animal ecology. While animals may be the most charismatic organisms in wetlands, most research has focused on individual taxa (population studies). Animal roles in the community and ecosystem ecology of wetlands are less well known, and Chapter 7 attempts to synthesize the available information on those themes. Chapter 8 focuses on ecosystem ecology, presenting the perhaps controversial notion that algal periphyton (biofilm that grows on plant and sediment substrata) holds a focal position in wetland ecosystem dynamics.

The final chapters focus on applied ecology. Chapter 9 addresses how wetlands are regulated and assessed, based on the regulatory framework developed in the United States. Chapter 10 examines wetland restoration, and given the ecological theme of this book, this chapter emphasizes how ecological theory can and should be incorporated into the restoration process. Chapter 11 addresses an important aspect of wetland conservation, describing how flood pulses control the ecology of most large wetland complexes (river floodplains, tidal marshes) and how human regulation of flood pulses is a primary threat to wetland biotic integrity. Chapter 12 further develops the theme of threats to wetlands. It addresses the greatest emerging danger to wetlands, a changing global climate, returning full circle to the original premise of this book that climate and geomorphology form the basis for all wetland functioning (Figure 1.3).

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Ecology of Freshwater and Estuarine Wetlands Copyright © 2006 by Regents of the University of California. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Table of Contents


List of Contributors
Preface

1. Ecology of Freshwater and Estuarine Wetlands:
An Introduction
What Is a Wetland?
Why Are Wetlands Important?
Wetland Loss and Degradation
What This Book Covers
2. Wetland Geomorphology, Soils, and Formative Processes
Wetland Geomorphology and Wetland Soils
Specific Wetland Types: Formative Processes, Geomorphology, and Soils
Conclusions
3. Wetland Hydrology
Hillslope Hydrologic Processes
Geomorphic Controls on Wetland Hydrology
Wetland Water Budgets
Hydropattern
Hydraulics and Water Quality
Effects of Land Use Changes on Wetland Hydrology
4. Abiotic Constraints for Wetland Plants and Animals
Hydrology
Salinity
5. Biogeochemistry and Bacterial Ecology of Hydrologically
Dynamic Wetlands
Chapter Themes
A Primer on Wetland Bacteriology
The Hydrology of Temporary Wetlands
Biogeochemical Cycles in Temporary Wetlands
Organic-matter Decay in Temporary Wetlands
Nutrient Uptake and Release in Temporary Wetlands
Integration and Synthesis: Biogeochemistry, Hydrology, and Sediments in Temporary Wetlands
Integration and Synthesis: Biogeochemistry, Hydrology, and Aquatic Plants in Temporary Wetlands
6. Development of Wetland Plant Communities
Importance of Hydrologic Conditions
Plant Community Development
Plant Distributions in Wetlands
Primary Productivity
Limiting Nutrients in Wetlands
Characteristics of Selected Wetlands
7. Wetland Animal Ecology
Trophic Ecology
Community Ecology
Focal Wetland Animals
8. Wetland Ecosystem Processes
Wetlands as Ecosystems
Generation and Retention of High Amounts of Organic Matter
Fluxes of Organic Matter and Energy in Aquatic Ecosystems
Attached Microbial Community Metabolism and Interactions
Modulation of Macrophytes and Periphyton by Mortality and Losses: What Do They Mean to Higher Trophic Levels?
Defensive Mechanisms and Allelochemical “Communication” Within Wetlands
Potential Effects of Global Changes in Climate and Related Environmental Conditions on Ecosystem Processes
9. United States Wetland Regulation and Policy
Wetland Definitions
Federal Jurisdiction of Wetlands
Wetland Delineation
Wetland Functions and Values
Functional Assessment Methods
Summary
10. Wetland Restoration
Catastrophic Versus Chronic Degradation
Enabling Restoration Efforts
Restore What?
Identifying Feasible Goals
How Theory Can Help
Restoring Functions at the Watershed Scale
Site-based Tactics
Surprises and Their Lessons
Evaluating Progress and Outcomes
Long-term Stewardship
Adaptive Restoration: An Approach That Simultaneously Advances Ecology and Accomplishes Restoration
11. Flood Pulsing and the Development and Maintenance of Biodiversity
in Floodplains
Characterization of Flood-pulsing Systems
Definition and Classification of Wetland Organisms
Strategies to Survive Flooding and Drought
Speciation and Extinction: The Impact of Paleoclimatic History on Species Diversity
Species Exchange Between Floodplains and Permanent Water Bodies
Species Exchange Between Floodplains and Terrestrial Habitats
Species Exchange Between Different Floodplains
Species Exchange Between Intertidal Wetlands and Other Habitats
Altering the Flood Pulse: Impacts on Biodiversity
Conclusions
12. Consequences for Wetlands of a Changing Global Environment
Assumptions
Effects on Carbon Balance
Effects on Species Composition and Redistribution
Effects on Wetland Types
Management and Policy Options
Summary

Literature Cited
Index

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