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Annalee Cameron
Pullman, WA
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The key take-home points for people to realize about the interactions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, blue carbon, green carbon, black carbon, invasive wetland plants, and the future of wetlands under global climate change is that further research and management strategies are needed in order to save wetlands from drying up, and increasing the amounts of green houses grasses being emitted into the atmosphere. Wetlands are considered one of the largest carbon sinks on earth, and with the rapid increase in the depletions of them, it can quicken the rates of global warming, and affect every other ecosystem worldwide. One of the key take home facts to properly understand from this section is the different types of carbon sinks. Blue carbon sinks coastal ecosystems including mangroves, sea grasses, and marshes. They contain sequestering carbon, at a rate of about 10 times higher than most forested ecosystems that retain carbon. With the effects of global warming, and the depletion of these wetlands due to development, these ecosystems are releasing CO2 at a rate of about 0.15 to 1.02Pg into the atmosphere annually. Other carbon sinks include green carbon which is the amount of carbon take up by terrestrial ecosystems, and there is also black carbon as well, and this is the carbon released back out into the atmosphere in the burning of fossil fuels. Another important issue to consider when thinking of the conservation of wetlands, is the spread of invasive species due to the increase in the amounts of nitrogen in an ecosystem. Global warming has aided the increase of the amount of nitrogen in the nitrogen cycle, and this has helped increase the spread of phragmites throughout wetland ecosystems. These plants can withstand a diverse amount of environmental conditions, and they grow quickly. Phragmites can cause temperature fluctuations, an increase in predation, and decrease the the availability of habitat to other species that are native to the areas being affected. Wetland ecosystems rely on proper nutrient cycling, and a decrease in the effects global warming for their survival. Further dedication and management is needed in order to save wetland ecosystems worldwide.
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1. One thing I found very interesting while reading the trophic ecology portion was the top-down versus bottom-up animal populations. One example they discussed in this section talked about how the structural complexity of plant stands affects the outcome of fish predation. They found that fish predation is reduced by habitat complexity, and this is caused by the presence of macrophytes. With an increase in species diversity in an ecosystem, it benefits the ecosystem as a whole, and help it work efficiently towards its equilibrium. In the community ecology portion it discusses the phases after a succession, and the degenerating marsh phase was new to me. From a wetland regenerating too much after a succession, it can negatively impact the species that thrive in that wetland significantly. During this phase, stands of emergent plants will begin to thin from being over submerged, and disease and prolonged flooding causing minimal plant germination will begin to take their toll on the ecosystem. 2. Along with the beaver, muskrats are known as wetland engineers as well from their behavior affects on wetland succession. When the population of muskrats becomes high in an area they can wipe out emergent wetlands quickly, and this is referred to as eat-outs. Muskrats are also very important to the marsh ecology. They help increase nitrogen mineralization and nitrification rates, and they help increase floristic diversity by thinning out stands of cattails. Fiddler crabs are also one of the most important species in estuarine marshes, and they are also known as an ecosystem engineer. Their larvae are important foods for fish, and the adults are consumed by birds. To protect themselves from predators, they burrow themselves deep in soil substrates, and the bioturbation from the borrowing mixes around the upper layers of the sediment, and increases the biochemical cycles estuarine ecosystems. This also helps decrease sulfate reduction and increases the concentrations of iron in the sediment.
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1. The three main sources of water for wetlands tend to influence nutrient inputs and plant communities in different types or categories of wetlands because the nutrient levels are related to each of the sources. Wetlands that receive most of their water from rainfall are more acidic and very nutrient poor, groundwater fed wetlands are more nutrient rich because groundwater accumulates dissolved minerals from bedrock. And wetlands with surface water inputs are richer in nutrients as well from water moving across the surface of the ground and picking up large amounts of dissolved minerals and particulate matter from the soil. 2. Variable hydraulic conditions maintain growing or germination conditions for certain types of wetlands because wetlands that are flooded for a longer period of time have lower plant species richness compared to wetlands that are flooded for a shorter period of time or less frequency. Waterlogged soils have low amounts of oxygen, and experience other chemical conditions that are not present in dry soils. From these conditions, its hard for plants to adapt and live in this environment. Erosion and sediment deposition caused by flowing waters could create additional niches that allow the wetland to have more of a diverse plant community. These can occur lakeshore marshes, river floodplains, and coastal tidal marshes. Salt marshes and mangroves that are flooded with saline water usually have lower plant diversity than closed freshwater wetlands because plants face the twin stresses of waterlogged soils and high salinities. 3. General views of the process of plant community succession and ideas about climate ecosystems have changed over time involving 3 fundamental topics including, vegetation occurs as recognizable groups of species or community types, community change is stimulated by the biota, and changes are linear and are directed toward a mature stable climax ecosystem. Views have changed on permanent “climax ecosystems” because there is no such thing as a permanent climax ecosystem for any site. The earth is constantly going through warmer and cooler periods, so habitat type are constantly changing all over the world. Wetlands are very sensitive to variation in climate and hydraulic conditions. 4. The process of “hydrarch succession” or “terrestrialization” is being debated by wetland scientists because they believe that it is only partly correct. The hydrarch succession model is correct because wetlands accumulate organic matter and sediment over time and it could lead to changes in the plant community. This model doesn’t cover that the accumulation of organic matter is self limiting, and it decreases as the wetland become drier. The issue with this model is that autogenic wetland succession is likely to lead to different types of wetlands instead of terrestrial habitats. this model also doesn’t take into consideration the external changes and how they appear to be more important for the long-term affects of a wetland then the internal autogenic changes that the hydrarch succession model discussed. 5. the C-S-R model of Grime describes 3 different functional groups according to the plants life history traits. These groups include competitor species, stress-tolerant species, and ruderal species. All of these factors play a major part in the structuring of terrestrial herbaceous plant communities. 6. The concept of functional groups of plants, or guilds are important in wetland construction or restoration because it can be used to predict their presence in different wetland habitats. there are certain assembly and response rules that can help construction and restoration of wetlands. The first assembly rule is a list of potential species and their their traits. The second is is the application of environmental filters and their environmental conditions that eliminate plant species from the species pool. These rules can help predict changes in species composition and help prevent and eliminate them from developing in certain environments. Knowing plant traits and environmental filters can be very useful in determining a management plant for a wetland in order to restore the plant communities and save the wetlands. 7. how annual versus perennial influences wetland plant communities in the Prairie pothole region is dependent on using the three classifications. Managers can easily identify which species can establish in which ecosystems. Annuals have a one year growing season, and perennials have many growing seasons. Knowing the characteristics of these individual plant species, we can determine which ecosystems are best suited for them. 8. The four invasive aquatic plants I chose were the hybrid cattail, Eurasian watermilfoil, purple loosestrife, and reed canary grass. These 4 species are all perennials and their seeds are distributed by wind and water. 9. nutrient enrichment has influenced many wetland plant communities in a negative way. Studies have shown that nutrient enrichment has spread from widespread declines in in overall plant species diversity, loss of rare and uncommon species, loss in overall plant species diversity, and replacement of native species with exotic species when when nutrient enrichment occurs. 10. The difference between nutrients commonly limiting plant growth in terrestrial environments vs. freshwater environments that accumulate organic matter is that in terrestrial environments, nitrogen is the limiting factor for plant growth. And in freshwater environments, phosphorus is the limiting nutrient.
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1. The general procedure used to study and quantify loss or gain of coastal wetlands began with this study randomly selecting 4.0 square mile sample plots and digital high-resolution imagery to identify changes in wetlands, deep-water habitats, and uplands. This study used a total of 2,614 plots, and ground verification was done on 380 of the plots. Considering coastal wetlands as a whole, we are losing wetlands rapidly, and findings from this study have showed that there was a net loss of an estimated 360,720 acres of wetlands from the time period of 2004 to 2009.Watersheds of the great lakes have experienced net gains of wetlands, but watersheds along the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico are experiencing a loss of 60,180 acres per year. The loss of saltwater estuarine wetlands was the greatest along the gold of Mexico, with a net loss of 161,870 acres. Even though the area of freshwater ponds increased by 6%, they are different from how they occurred originally because many are now located in urban or suburban developments, and exist as water detention ponds or ornamental ponds as opposed to the targeted wetland reestablishment projects. The strategy of “no net loss” of coastal wetlands appears to be ineffective because there were more losses than gains of wetlands throughout this reestablishment project. 2. Human population density is changing wetlands because of the environmental stressors being placed on the wetlands. These wetlands are now facing agricultural uses that are changing the natural water flow, increased pollution, and habitat fragmentation. And many of these concerns are from the increased density of residential development on, and around these lands. The nations 4th seacoast is the Great Lakes and their connecting channels and rivers that compromise the worlds largest body of freshwater. The coastal wetlands are typically different on the pacific coast because they are characterized be steep topographic relief between land and sea, instead of coastal plain everywhere else in the US. 3. Wetlands of the pacific coast contain least amount of coastal wetlands, and the pacific was is the only coastline where saltwater wetland area exceeds freshwater wetland. Also, 70% of all intertidal wetlands are non-vegetated. The overall net loss of these wetlands between 2004 and 2009 was 40 acres. 4. Forested wetland areas have declined by an estimated value of 405,740 acres between 2004 and 2009. 63% of this net loss was caused by the areas being cleared and concerted to other wetland types. And 36% was lost to upland land uses. 5. Simple changes in wetland area are not always a good guideline to changes in wetland ecology and function because it alters the natural flow of wetlands, which can later lead in the loss of them as well. Figure one shows freshwater ponds overtaken by a housing developments, and many of the wetlands were replaced by artificially created, open water ponds. This affects the natural water flow into the ponds. And this can then increase pollution, and decrease the environmental purpose that these wetlands had on their surroundings. 6. Several factors contribute and are responsible for the slow reestablishment coastal watersheds including the logistical difficulties of working in coastal ecosystems, competing land use interests and higher costs to reestablish coastal wetlands. Sustainable reestablishment opportunities are also limited by geography, human encroachment, land-use resulting in fewer suitable sites, and geophysical processes from the sea that hamper reestablishment efforts. 7. The basic problem with loss of coastal wetlands to siviculture is the removal of trees, or the harvesting of them, which is associated with drainage ditching, intensive site preparation, and timber stand management, and harvest practices. These all can alter or eliminate the site hydrology, thereby causing a loss of wetlands. Out the the 69,700 acres of wetland loss in southeastern coastal watersheds, 44% of the losses was caused by sivicultural practices. 8. Some of the biggest causes of coastal wetland loss are from human-related stressors on the environment including development, pollution, and many other factors. Wetlands are very vulnerable to both developments on the landward side and coastal processes from the sea, and they are being depleted faster than we can help revitalize them.
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1. The difference between an oxidized soil layer and a reduced soil layer is that the oxidized soil layer is a thin layer at the surface of the soil at the soil-water interface. This layer is very important for chemical transformations and nutrient cycling and contains oxidized ions such as manganese, iron, and sulfur. The reduced soil layer shares many of the same characteristics but in reduced forms such as manganous salts, ammonia, and sulfides. Due to the differences in the amount of iron in both of the layers, the oxidized layer is a brownish-red color, and the reduced soil layer is more of a greenish-gray color. 2. The nitrogen cycle is so important to wetlands because it directly affects a wetlands biogeochemistry. As nitrogen moves throughout the different layers of oxidized and reduced layers of a wetland, it changes form and then can be cycled back out into the atmosphere. 3. The production of swamp gas is an important part of wetland and global ecology because it is a way of cycling methane back out into the atmosphere. The lower the amount of methane in exposed marshes can result in lower rates of methanogenesis and higher rates of methane oxidation. 4. Nutrient cycling in wetlands differs from nutrient cycling in deepwater aquatic habitats because more nutrients are tied up in sediments and peat in wetlands, and deepwater aquatic aquatic systems have autotrophic activity more dependent on nutrients in the water column than on nutrients in the sediments. 5. Playa lakes don’t get highly saline because the water doesn’t just evaporate, it moves back down through the bottom of the playas, where calcium carbonate is removed, then it goes back into the aquifer where it is then recharged. Muskrats are not present in playas because corridors are not available within playa lakes. Playas are important to waterfowl because they provide food and habitat, and they are a great place for reproduction, and hiding and nesting.
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1. - Light is one of the the largest factors in determining growth forms. Some plants grow towards the surface of the water, and other plants have adapted with floating leaves. - Temperature changes affecting oxygen levels in the water can limit the types of species that live in certain areas. - Nutrient levels affect the types of aquatic species that can live in certain regions by depending on the availability of certain nutrients. Many aquatic plants are distributed depending on how they use carbon, either as HCO3- or CO2. - Anchorage characteristics depending on the substrate of the area is another way plants have adapted over time. Some plants can reside in rocky substrates while others rely on mineral substrates. - Plants have adapted to specific water movements. Depending on if they occur in an area with fast currents, slow currents, waves, etc., they can change their shape and root systems to make them more suitable for that environment. One of the key challenges that aquatic plants will have to face from climate change is the increase of CO2. An increase in the amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere may increase the growth of macrophytes, which would decrease the survival rate for other small and vulnerable plant species. Temperature increases due to global warming will affect aquatic plants drastically as well. This could lead to earlier spring water warming and higher summer peaks in water-bodies. Temperature increases may also lead to prolonged anoxia phases, increasing the amount of stress put on aquatic plants. Both of these factors will decrease the amounts of species richness over time. 2. Mudflat annuals or drawn down species are terrestrial damp species that become established when wetlands do not have standing water. They are not normally found when wetlands have standing water. The author suggests that wetlands with longer wet-dry cycles tend to have higher floral and faunal diversity because they don’t dry out as often. This gives animals such as fish, amphibians, and waterfowl the ability to establish themselves and reproduce in these regions. Hydrological studies revealed that prairie wetlands commonly have ground and surface water connections instead of what they thought was isolated wetlands from the aerial photos. The hydrological studies showed that there were groundwater connections between basins and the different basins were also periodically connected by surface flows, especially in the spring from snowmelt or above normal precipitation. The experimental studies of wetlands in MERP suggest that muskrats may not have had as much to do with wetland vegetation dynamics during wet-dry cycles because the elimination of emergent species was caused by the prolonged period of high water. The increase in muskrat populations helped quicken the process of elimination, but it was primarily caused by the prolonged wet period of the cycle.
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1. After watching the 3 videos on the Carolina Bays, it amazes me that there is still so much uncertainty of how these bays originated. The thought of these bays coming from an ice sheet ejecting ice boulders due to an asteroid is very interesting! This information was new to me; I have never heard about the California Bays before. Its very interesting to me that all of the bays are so similar in size and location. I believe that it is very important to understand the geologic origins and geomorphology of these bays because it can explain the historical impacts that have shaped these wetlands, and also why they have the specific ecological characteristics that they do that benefit the species that inhabit them. 2. The legal definition of “isolated wetlands” versus the ecological reality causing concern among wetland scientists and conservationists is because of the new ruling made by the supreme court which would end up resulting in losing 20% of the nations wetlands, including pocosins connected to rivers and bays. Wetlands scientists and conservationists are concerned because the term “isolated” is not a precise enough scientific term to use to refer to these wetlands, and this could result in the loss of management over much of our wetlands. 3. The primary driver of the hydrology of the Carolina Bay Wetlands is driven by rainfall and evapotranspiration. 4. The basal area of the conifer, Pondcypress generally seems to be greater in medium-depth swamps because there is much more organic matter which would aid in faster growth, and it also helps preclude the invasion of hardwoods. 5. Fens are susceptible to the predicted impacts of climate change due to their hydrogeologic settings. Fens are supplied by perched aquifers instead of deeper regional aquifers, so they are highly susceptible to alterations caused by human activities. 6. Fens are critical for biodiversity conservation because they are among the most diverse of all wetland types. They contain very mineral rich groundwater, and they also support a large diverse group of animals, including many animals listed under the endangered species act. The difference between a bog and a fen is that bogs are created primarily by rainwater while fens are created by groundwater. Since the bogs are created by rainfall, they are more acidic than fens affecting the plants communities and other chemical processes that occur in them.
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After going over the material provided, it is very clear as to why the term “management” was included in the title of this course. Wetlands are one of the core components of having a healthy well-balanced environment. With wetlands being under serious threats due to pollution, construction, invasive species, and change in the natural hydrology, it is very important for us to learn about various management tactics and how to apply out in the field. The PLOS ONE article illustrates some of the important benefits of wetland management by presenting a great example of monitoring bird populations in refuge lands and non-refuge lands. From the data they received, the non-refuge lands had slower population increases over the years compared to the population increases in the refuge wetlands. This proves that management is a key role in creating a sustainable, healthy wetland for the species that inhabit them. I don’t think I have ever seen a completely “natural” wetland. Many of the wetlands I’ve seen are used as storm drains from surrounding building complexes, parking lots, and roadways. Others that I’ve seen have been known to be contaminated with pollutants including lead shot from the previous years. I don’t know enough about wetlands to determine them to be natural or unnatural quite yet, but I look forward to learning about these deterministic factors in this course!
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My name is Annalee Cameron and I am a senior here at WSU studying wildlife ecology and conservation. Growing up, I spent much time hunting waterfowl in wetland regions, so I am very excited to learn more about the ecology and management tactics that take place in wetland ecosystems!
Toggle Commented Aug 27, 2015 on Class Profiles at Wetland Ecology & Management
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Aug 27, 2015