Past Webinars Webinars on YouTube
The mission statement of the Webinar Program is to facilitate the exchange of scientific, management, and policy information concerning wetlands in an electronic format and to enable regular exchange across a wide geographic area in a relatively low-cost, interactive and multimedia way. This is expected to foster the international scope and visibility of SWS, while providing a forum of professional exchange and collaboration.
For questions on past webinars, please find the speaker’s contact information within the presentation, or feel free to contact Kara Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org), who can help connect you with the webinar speaker. SWS members have full access to all past webinar recordings. To access, please log in as a member.
Webinars on YouTube
The SWS Webinar Committee is excited to announce that our free webinar recordings are now available on the SWS YouTube channel! Now, SWS supporters around the world can watch the webinars with subtitles in their native language.
To view the webinars with subtitles, click the “CC” button in the bottom, right-hand corner of the video. You can change the language of the subtitles by clicking on the settings button in the bottom, right-hand corner and going to subtitles/CC > auto-translate > and choosing the language of your choice.
June 2018: Climate Change and Coastal Wetlands: Planning for Resiliency in the Face of a Rising Tide
Climate change is a real and pressing issue facing resource managers, and as such requires planning for the protection of coastal wetland resources. Understanding the ecological trajectory of coastal wetlands that currently are, or in the future will experience effects of sea-level rise and altered temperature regimes, is critical to anticipating future coastal ecosystem form and function. This is highly important in areas where wetlands play a regionally significant role as storage pools of ecologically relevant elements (carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus), critical habitat for fisheries, or provide other desirable ecosystem services. Climate change is a real and pressing issue facing resource managers, and as such requires planning for the protection of coastal wetland resources. Understanding the ecological trajectory of coastal wetlands that currently are, or in the future will experience effects of sea-level rise and altered temperature regimes, is critical to anticipating future coastal ecosystem form and function. This is highly important in areas where wetlands play a regionally significant role as storage pools of ecologically relevant elements (carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus), critical habitat for fisheries, or provide other desirable ecosystem services.
We utilize observations of salt water intrusion into the freshwater marshes of the Florida Everglades and the resulting "peat collapse" to provide insight into ecosystem trajectories of vegetation communities and organic soil resources. The synthesis of these observations suggest significant changes to ecosystem form and function within the footprint of salt water transgression, providing resource managers with tools to plan for ecosystem changes. We also utilize observations of mangrove expansion into historical saltmarsh ecosystems on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of Florida which indicates climate change, in the form of reduced freezing events, is allowing a shift in foundation species in coastal wetlands. The change of dominant vegetation from marsh cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) to woody, canopy forming black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) and red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) can have significant effects on ecological function and ecosystem services provided. We synthesize results of several research efforts in this changing coastal wetland system to provide resource managers and research scientists alike with ecosystem trajectories which include alterations to blue carbon storage, habitat value, and trophic structure. These trajectories form the basis for which to forecast change and resiliency in coastal wetlands and plan for protection of high value wetland resources.
Dr. Todd Z. Osborne is an Assistant Professor of Estuarine Biogeochemistry at the University of Florida Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience in St. Augustine FL and maintains an appointment in the Soil and Water Science Department on UF’s Main campus. As the head of the Estuarine Ecosystems Laboratory at Whitney, Dr. Osborne has a diverse research program focusing on biogeochemical processes in soil and water in a variety of ecosystems throughout Florida. Currently, Dr. Osborne is highly engaged in research determining how climate change affects coastal ecosystem form and function. His lab is currently working within the ecotone of mangrove range expansion into saltmarsh habitats with special interest in applying principles of biogeochemistry to addressing ecological questions in the coastal zone. The Osborne lab is also highly engaged in the study of large-scale disturbances (hurricanes, sea-level rise) to natural and urbanized coastal ecosystems.Dr. Todd Z. Osborne is an Assistant Professor of Estuarine Biogeochemistry at the University of Florida Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience in St. Augustine FL and maintains an appointment in the Soil and Water Science Department on UF’s Main campus. As the head of the Estuarine Ecosystems Laboratory at Whitney, Dr. Osborne has a diverse research program focusing on biogeochemical processes in soil and water in a variety of ecosystems throughout Florida. Currently, Dr. Osborne is highly engaged in research determining how climate change affects coastal ecosystem form and function. His lab is currently working within the ecotone of mangrove range expansion into saltmarsh habitats with special interest in applying principles of biogeochemistry to addressing ecological questions in the coastal zone. The Osborne lab is also highly engaged in the study of large-scale disturbances (hurricanes, sea-level rise) to natural and urbanized coastal ecosystems.
Dr. Osborne has been engaged in Everglades restoration science for two decades with several projects investigating biogeochemical cycling of phosphorus, sulfur and carbon within the Greater Everglades. These research initiatives include fire effects on biogeochemical cycling of phosphorus and impacts to water quality and exotic species, sulfur biogeochemistry and relationships to mercury and phosphorus mobility in Everglades soils, and spatial variability of soil nutrients at the landscape scale. Recently completed work on nutrient gradients in the Taylor Slough basin of Everglades National Park have also gained the attention of ecologists and Park Service land managers, resulting in new theories concerning nutrient cycling at the landscape scale in Everglades restoration science.
Hailing from Georgia, Todd migrated south for graduate school where he met his wife, a UF Veterinarian and native Floridian. They live in St. Augustine FL with their two young daughters, both of which know the local wetlands like the back of their hands!
April 2018: Peatlands, Parks, and Playas: a Tour of Colorado’s Diverse Wetlands
Colorado is known for its high mountain peaks and river valleys, but its geography is far more diverse than its reputation suggests. The eighth largest state in the country, Colorado covers over 100,000 square miles (270,000 km2) stretched across three main ecoregions: high plains to the east, peaks and valleys of the Rocky Mountains through central Colorado, and canyons of the Colorado Plateau to the west. Colorado’s elevation range spans more than 10,000 feet, from just over 3,300 ft (2,070 m) along the eastern border with Kansas to 14,440 ft (4400 m) at the top of Mount Elbert, and its geology includes diverse metamorphic, volcanic, and sedimentary formations. The canvas of Colorado’s geography creates a rich and diverse array of wetlands, though the semi-arid climate limits the extent of wetlands to less than 2% of the state’s land area.
The Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP) at Colorado State University has been cataloguing, classifying, and assessing the condition of Colorado wetlands for over 20 years. This presentation will introduce listeners to the major wetland types of Colorado and how they fit into the complex landforms of the state. Three major wetland types will be highlighted to tell the story of Colorado wetlands and their origins, the functions they provide, and how they are influenced by past and present land and water use. The first will be groundwater-fed peatlands, or fens, which occur almost exclusively above 8,000 ft and provide habitat for a host of state and globally rare plant species. The second will be expansive wet meadows within the state’s mountain valleys, locally referred to as parks. Today’s wet meadows are closely connected to the intricate water supply and irrigation network that makes life in the high desert possible. The final wetland type will be ephemeral playas and other wetland types of the eastern plains, which are critical for the seasonal migration of millions of birds. Information in the presentation will draw on a variety of studies conducted by CNHP and partner organizations over the years. Get ready for the upcoming SWS Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, by learning about wetlands in this diverse and fascinating state!
Joanna Lemly is a Wetland Ecologist at the Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP) at Colorado State University, where she oversees CNHP’s work on wetland assessment and mapping. Under Joanna’s leadership, CNHP is working with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to assess the condition and habitat quality of Colorado’s wetlands, one river basin at a time. The assessments employ field protocols developed by CNHP and CPW to assess both general condition and the quality of habitat available to priority wetland-dependent wildlife species. Since 2008, Joanna and colleagues at CNHP have worked closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wetlands Inventory to create a statewide digital map of wetlands. Their most recent effort is to add functional attributes to wetland mapping in order to summarize and analyze the functions provided by wetlands on a watershed basis. CNHP has also developed an online mapper to view wetlands data and CNHP is currently working on a more interactive mapping tool to aid with watershed planning. Additionally, Joanna has been heavily involved in the development of both online and printed educational resources for wetlands, including the Field Guide to Colorado’s Wetland Plants and the Colorado Wetland Information Center (www.cnhp.colostate.edu/cwic). Joanna has worked in various aspects of plant ecology for over 15 years, with a particular emphasis on wetland ecology. She holds an M.S. in Ecology from Colorado State University, a Certificate in Wetland Science and Management from the University of Washington, and a B.A in Environmental Science from the Colorado College.
March 2018: Livestock grazing affects microbial activity at different soil depths via the groundwater level with potential implications for carbon sequestration
Saltmarshes, as many other wetlands, provide various ecosystem functions and services including shoreline protection and carbon (C) sequestration. The salt marshes of the Wadden Sea (Germany), have been strongly altered by anthropogenic influences such as livestock grazing, which has been practiced for centuries. It is, however, unclear how grazing affects some ecosystem functions and services. Carbon sequestration, for example, might be affected by livestock grazing both positively and negatively. On the one hand, grazing will reduce aboveground biomass, but was also previously found to increase belowground biomass, which is likely contributing more to soil organic C. On the other hand, livestock grazing can alter soil properties by soil compaction leading to lower pore space. This could lead to a reduced water drainage and thus a reduced Oxygen availability, which in turn hampers the breakdown of organic material by microorganisms. Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess the effect of grazing on soil structure and its influence on hydrology in salt marshes of the Wadden Sea. Additionally, we aim to quantify microbial activity as a proxy for the decomposition of organic matter at different soil depths. Our hypotheses were that soil at the grazed saltmarshes would have higher soil bulk density, lower C content, and lower water drainage rate.
Two saltmarshes were selected at the coast of the Wadden Sea: Dieksanderkoog marsh (DSK) and Sönke-Nissen-Koog marsh (SNK). Both DSK and SNK are part of the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park, Germany. With the establishment of National Parks in the 1990s, livestock grazing was abandoned in large areas. To study the effect of this grazing reduction on vegetation, two experiments were established at DSK and SNK in 1992 including a grazing treatment with sheep and an ungrazed control treatment at both sites. To assess the impact of grazing on soil properties in this experiment, a total number of 8 undisturbed soil cores (20 X 50 cm) were collected by inserting sharp edges PVC pipes in October 2017. The soil cores were scanned in collaboration with Dr. Jürgen Titschack (MARUM Bremen) using a Computer Tomograph (CT) at the hospital Klinikum Bremen-Mitte, Germany, with an x-ray source voltage of 120 kV and a current of 600 mA. Following the soil CT scan and side-opening the cores, soil sub-samples were taken; where soil bulk density (g cm-3) and total C content (%) were estimated by core method and CHN analyses, respectively. Water level for both sites was recorded every 5 minutes for the last two years using slotted PVC wells and pressure sensors.
Data analyses of the cores indicated that ungrazed salt marshes have higher porosity (i.e. the percentage of pore spaces relative to sediment material) and connectivity (i.e. the ratio of number of disconnected pores relative to the total pore volume per slice) compared with grazed sites. Additionally, sediment density was higher at the grazed sites and increased with soil depth. Furthermore, the soil sub-samples results indicated that grazing had an impact on soil properties with higher soil bulk density and lower C content, most noticeable in the upper 5-10 cm. In line with this result, monitoring of water level indicated faster drainage rates for the ungrazed marshes as a result of higher porosity and less compaction. Furthermore, we expect that the longer retaining of the water between soil particles as a result of soil compaction by trampling might also impact the soil microbial activity. This parameter will therefore be assessed in soil cores from the same site in spring 2018.
Photo credit: Amr Keshta
Amr Keshta was our very first Wetland Ambassador in 2017. The SWS Wetland Ambassador Graduate Research Fellowship allows graduate students to travel to another country and conduct groundbreaking wetland research with some of the world’s top wetland research scientists. Keshta completed his Master’s degree in Environmental Science at Tanta University in Egypt in 2011. He recently returned from his fellowship at the University of Hamburg in Germany, where he was under the mentorship of Dr. Kai Jensen. Amr Keshta is passionate about studying carbon cycling in wetlands, wetland biogeochemistry, sediment dynamics, soil carbon stocks, wetland hydrodynamics, climate change, and wetland restoration. His graduate research involves the application of remote sensing tools to aid in the prediction of the impact of sea level rise on coastal wetlands. He also studies greenhouse gas emissions and their global impact on coastal wetlands and wildlife habitats.
February 2018: The enigmatic Okavango Delta: A large wetland in a dryland
The Okavango Delta, with an area of approximately 15 000 km2 (almost 6 000 square miles), is southern Africa’s largest wetland. Remarkably, it is situated in the Kalahari, which is semi-arid with a mean annual rainfall of around 500 mm (20 inches), while mean annual potential evapotranspiration is well over 2 000 mm (80 inches). As such the Okavango is a wetland in a dryland landscape as it is characterised by a strongly negative water balance.
Runoff from rainfall in the highlands of central Angola drains south-eastwards into the Kalahari Basin, such that it disappears within a continental setting and never reaches the ocean. Of the water entering the Okavango via runoff and rainfall, 98 % evaporates. All of the clastic and 98 % of the dissolved sediment transported into the ecosystem is deposited within it. The accumulation of dissolved sediment in the ecosystem should lead to salinization of surface waters, but the ecosystem is characterised by fresh surface waters that are crystal clear.
Deposition of clastic sediment in upper channels leads to large-scale diversion of water from one part of the system to another over timescales of centuries. These events lead to combustion of peat deposits in peat fires that burn for decades. Dissolved sediment that is potentially toxic to the wetland ecosystem as carbonate salts of mainly calcium, magnesium and sodium, accumulates beneath islands where dense broadleaved evergreen forests act as water pumps and draw down the water table. Trees are selective in their uptake of dissolved salts and exclude those that are detrimental to plant and animal life. These salts therefore accumulate in island soils, creating topographic relief. Sodium remains in solution throughout the evaporation process and poisons island soils over timescales of about 100 years. The focussing of potentially harmful salts on islands means that surface water in the wetland remain remarkably fresh. Channel switching leading to changing flow patterns allows renewal of poisoned island soils and the long-term maintenance of a freshwater wetland ecosystem where one might expect salinization.
The structure and functioning of this remarkable ecosystem are discussed in the light of research over a period of about 25 years by a fairly small group of researchers.
Fred Ellery has repeatedly said that there is nothing he would rather do than wander through and think about a wetland. His curiosity and enthusiasm about these ecosystems are epitomised in his research, teaching and learning over the length of his career.
As a young scientist he and his wife Karen worked in a remote part of the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana, an arid country north-of South Africa. As part of a fairly small multidisciplinary research team he learned to think across temporal and spatial scales, and to integrate research findings to develop understanding that he felt was essential if wetlands were to be wisely managed and conserved. More recently he worked in wetlands in the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park in northern KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. He also headed a research program that addressed issues related to wetland rehabilitation in South Africa, where the state substantially funds wetland restoration nationally through an expanded public works program. Since moving to Rhodes University in the Eastern Cape Province in South Africa about a decade ago, he has worked on smaller wetlands, particularly those occurring on an ancient erosion surface where wetlands are tens of millions of years old.
Fred is well known nationally and has international links with scientists in Australia, Europe and North America. He is currently a joint Chairperson of the International Chapter of SWS, with responsibilities in promoting the activities of the Society in Africa.
January 2018: Blue Carbon: Science and Application for Adding Value to Estuary Restoration
Coastal blue carbon has emerged as new opportunity to connect coastal management goals with climate mitigation and adaptation. Degradation and destruction of coastal blue carbon ecosystems (salt marshes, seagrass meadows and tidal forests) results in the loss of many important ecosystem services, including carbon storage and sequestration. Protecting and restoring these ecosystems can prevent CO2 emissions, increase carbon sequestration, and also reduce emissions of nitrous oxide and methane.
In the past few years, much has been achieved to advance the science and policies related to blue carbon at global, national and locally scales. Networks of NGOs with state, federal and private partners are leading the way in advancing our understanding of blue carbon science and piloting blue carbon application in management, policy and markets. This presentation will cover past and ongoing science assessments led by Restore America’s Estuaries (a US based non-profit) and our partners, tools and resources for applying blue carbon, and discuss remaining science needs.
As blue carbon initiatives have been growing over the past few years, this talk will also include existing and emerging networks, in the US and globally, working to advance blue carbon for coastal conservation. This ecosystem service provides an opportunity to add value for coastal restoration and conservation efforts, enhance habitat management to include climate adaptation and mitigation, and tap into carbon finance.
Stefanie Simpson is the Blue Carbon Program Senior Manager for Restore America’s Estuaries, where she works to build regional and national capacity for utilizing blue carbon ecosystem services to increase investment in coastal restoration and conservation. In this role, Stefanie develops outreach products, leads the US Blue Carbon National working group, and works with partners to develop tools and pilot projects utilizing blue carbon to support estuary restoration. Prior to RAE Stefanie was an ORISE Fellow for the EPA’s Office of Water, worked at the ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve in South Carolina, and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines promoting environmental stewardship and working with locals on coastal resource management. Stefanie has her B.S. in biology from Clemson University and a M.S. in Environmental Studies from the College of Charleston.
December 2017: Five Causal Factors: A General Framework for Wetland Science and Restoration
At one time, lack of information limited our understanding of wetlands, and made restoration difficult. Now it is possible that the opposite is true: we are drowning in data on wetlands, and confused about how to best apply the huge volume of information. People are now, it seems, busily engaged in collecting data that no one will ever use, and writing papers that no one has the time to read.
How to deal with this situation? We cannot organize our information by species, because there are too many of them (ca. 125,000 species in wetlands according to the IUCN). We cannot organize information by geographical or ecological region, because there are too many of those too (867 ecoregions according to WWF). Meanwhile, new data streams into journals. What is to be done?
Perhaps we can learn from others. Consider that physicists can describe most of the universe using only four forces! Without succumbing to physics envy, we could borrow from this approach, and consider causal factors as ecological forces that transcend species and geography. Causal forces might provide us with a set of general principles to organize our existing knowledge, and to guide our attempts to restore wetlands.
I will explore how only five causal forces may account for nearly all the variation we see in and among wetlands: hydrology, fertility, natural disturbance, herbivory, and competition. In fact, the list can be shortened to four if we treat herbivory as just another kind of natural disturbance. These factors operate in all wetlands, be they peat bogs, mangrove swamps or freshwater marshes. The order in which we list them above matters, since hydrology alone likely accounts for half the variation (ca 50 percent), with fertility and natural disturbance next (ca 15 percent). If we can explain 80 percent of the composition and function of wetlands with just three causal factors, that is actually a rather good situation to be in.
Of course, other factors influence wetlands. Near the coast, salinity needs to be added to this list. Other factors can include burial, roads, and coarse woody debris.
In this presentation, I will walk you through this approach in more detail. My intention is to illustrate each of the causal factors with two examples: one that illustrates generality (for scientific organization of our ideas) and the other that illustrates application (for immediate use in wetland conservation or restoration.)
Dr. Paul Keddy has been a biologist, writer and scholar for more than forty years. He was a professor of ecology at three different universities, and now is an Independent Scholar, living on the edge of a large wetland, deep within the deciduous forests of Lanark County in southern Canada. He has written over 100 scholarly papers, and even more essays, most of which can be found at his web site www.drpaulkeddy.com. He achieved international designation as a Highly Cited Researcher, has awards from the Society of Wetland Scientists and the Environmental Law Institute, and, locally, is designated a Champion for Nature. His best-known books include Wetland Ecology, and Plant Ecology, both of which offer a global perspective on general principles in ecology and their applications to conservation. He also co-edited The World’s Largest Wetlands. In his spare time, has written two self-published natural history guides, one for Lanark County (which won the W.E. Saunders award from Ontario Nature), and one for Louisiana. The focus of his career has been upon the general principles that organize ecological communities, with emphasis upon plants and wetlands. His focus on plants was a rational decision -- the inescapable fact that more than 90 percent of the biomass on Earth is comprised of plants. He has a particular soft spot for turtles, frogs and alligators, but says that getting the vegetation right is essential to provide habitat for such species. He thinks that science should be used to solve problems in the real world, and hence has spent many hours advising on wetland conservation in areas including Nova Scotia, the Great Lakes watershed, and coastal Louisiana, with lesser forays including San Francisco Bay and the Everglades. He has served organizations including the National Science Foundation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, World Wildlife Fund, and The Nature Conservancy. He also puts his money where his mouth is – over 40 years he has slowly bought nearly a square mile of forest and wetland in Lanark County, habitat which has now been donated to the local land trust as a nature sanctuary. He continues to write and lecture. His latest book is a new edition of Plant Ecology. His lectures have included Washington, Toronto, Madrid, Granada, and Lyon — as well as Perth, Almonte and Lanark Village.
November 2017: Wetland Restoration in the Rocky Mountains, USA: Lessons from the Field
During this webinar, I’ll describe several recent wetland restoration and compensatory mitigation projects completed in the Great Plains, Western Mountains and Valleys, and Arid West Regions of the western US. Each project presents its own challenges and offers its own lessons. These vary from specifics of restoration design and planting techniques, to the nuances of regulatory compliance and performance standards. I'll present various methods and approaches that have resulted in many successfully completed projects over the last 19 years.
Andy Herb, owner of AlpineEco (founded in 2007), has worked as a professional ecologist for 19 years. Although most of his work has been in the western USA, he also has successfully completed many projects in the Republic of Korea, Japan, and Guam. His work involves most aspects of field ecology, with a focus on wetland and vegetation studies. He has been involved in many projects that included Clean Water Act (Section 404), National Environmental Policy Act, and Endangered Species Act compliance, as well as general natural resource management. Mr. Herb has lead both research-oriented and infrastructure-related work for nearly all types of clients in the private and public sectors, including dozens of projects involving wetland creation and restoration. He is the immediate past-president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Society of Wetland Scientists, and is also the founder and chairperson of SWS’s Wetland Restoration Section. His commitment to science and the environment, combined with his practical approach to problem-solving results in creative, cost-effective, and ecosystem-friendly approaches to projects. Mr. Herb is also the owner of AlpineEco Nursery (founded in 2012) which provides native wetland and riparian plants for ecological restoration in the Rocky Mountain Region.
Classification of macro-habitats: A powerful tool for comparative studies, sustainable development and environmental impact analysis in wetlands
The Classification of macro-habitats: A powerful tool for comparative studies, sustainable development and environmental impact analysis in wetlands was presented by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang J. Junk from the National Institute for Science and Technology in Wetlands (INCT-INAU), Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT), Cuiabá, Brazil. It was originally presented at I Congreso Internacional y II Congresso Nacional de Ríos y Humedales in Neiva, Huila, Colombia, October 23 - 27, 2017.
October 2017: Marsh response to sea level rise: examples from the Chesapeake and beyond
This presentation will focus on how marshes respond to sea level rise, and consider the processes that maintain marshes (i.e. vertical accretion), destroy marshes (i.e. erosion), and create marshes (i.e. migration into uplands). The presentation will particularly draw upon historical and modern examples of coastal change in the Chesapeake region, which includes locations where sea level rise has led to catastrophic marsh loss but also locations where marshes are getting bigger. Central themes include the importance of mineral sediment supply, and the role humans play in allowing or prohibiting marsh migration into adjacent uplands.
Dr. Matthew L. Kirwan is an Assistant Professor at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science with expertise in coastal geomorphology and ecology. His research focuses on marsh response to sea level rise, carbon-climate feedbacks, and the role humans play in the formation and survival of coastal landscapes. He is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and Duke University, and a member of the Nause Waiwash Indian tribe.
September 2017: Subtropical wetlands: comparing primary producer diversity and dominance and addressing restoration challenges
In this webinar, I will present highlights of my recently published research on patterns and controls of algal richness in the Okavango Delta (Botswana) and the Florida Everglades (U.S.A.), and of algal dominance in the Everglades. I will also introduce some preliminary comparisons of restoration approaches in other subtropical wetlands. Globally, anthropogenic activities are heavily impacting subtropical wetlands, for example via hydrological and nutrient changes. In these ecosystems, hydrological variability and nutrient availability are key factors determining changes in the community structure of key aquatic primary producers, such as microalgae. Highly diverse communities may use limiting nutrients more efficiently than less diverse ones, while, in the latter, a few algal species may dominate aquatic primary production. In turn, algal diversity and/or dominance may enhance wetland resilience via food web dynamics; thus we need to address the fundamental question: “How do diversity, enhanced by numerous rare species, and/or dominance by a few well adapted species vary with hydrological and nutrient changes in subtropical wetlands?” To predict how primary producer community structure will change with scenarios of oligotrophication / eutrophication, drying / wetting, and water flow diversion / restoration, we need more comparative studies with standardized approaches, and international and interdisciplinary collaborations. As key challenges await these aquatic systems facing present and/or predicted intense exploitation by humans and global environmental change, how can impacted wetlands be restored to an ecologically sustainable functioning state via effective science, monitoring, management, conservation, and policy?
Dr. Luca Marazzi holds an MSc in Environmental Sciences from the University of Milano Bicocca (Italy) and a Ph.D. in Freshwater Ecology from University College London (UK). Since January 2015, he has been working as a postdoctoral associate in Dr. Evelyn Gaiser’s laboratory at Florida International University, where he is investigating how and why diversity, abundance and biomass of freshwater microalgae change across space, time and environmental gradients in subtropical wetlands such as the Everglades and the Okavango Delta. His previous studies and research, teaching and consultancy work in Europe focused on topics such as bird migration, air quality assessments, climate change scenarios, biodiversity and ecosystem services, and sustainability. He is interested in further developing his comparative studies to encompass the analysis of wetland restoration and conservation practices in collaboration with other wetland experts.
August 2017: Robust Interpolation of Water Levels and Ecological Conditions at Unmonitored Wetlands using Regression-kriging
Tampa Bay Water, Florida's largest wholesale water supplier, is assessing environmental recovery of wetlands and lakes in the Northern Tampa Bay area in response to regional groundwater production cut-backs. Groundwater production cut-backs were initiated in 2003 to improve regional aquifer levels and wetland hydrology and as part of a larger effort to develop diverse, environmentally-sustainable supplies that could accommodate future growth. Over 400 monitored wetlands and lakes are being assessed in comparison to hydrologic standards based on regulatory minimum level criteria. Unfortunately, water level data are unavailable for 684 unmonitored sites (7,900 acres) located in the vicinity of groundwater wellfields, causing uncertainty regarding the extent to which these areas have recovered. We implemented a robust regression-kriging (RK) interpolation approach using R to provide estimates of water level and ecological recovery at each unmonitored site. Best subsets multiple linear regression with the Bayesian Information Criterion was used to select the most probable, but parsimonious, subset of variables for prediction of median water levels relative to indicators of historic inundation for the period 2008-2014. Residuals showed spatial autocorrelation, so they were kriged to generate a combined RK model. Cross-validated residuals from the RK model ranged from -0.66 feet to +0.40 feet for 80% of the locations. The RK predictions were compared to wetland-type specific thresholds to yield recovery status for each unmonitored site. Similar methods were applied to a field-assessed metric of ecological condition available from over 800 locations. The interpolated estimates of both water levels and ecological conditions are being used to screen out recovered sites and prioritize others for further study and potential mitigation.
Dan Schmutz is the Chief Environmental Scientist for Greenman-Pedersen, Inc. (GPI), a 1,200-person multidisciplinary consulting firm. He holds a Master’s degree in Zoology from the University of South Florida. He has over 20 years of professional experience focused on the development and application of ecological and hydrological field assessments, GIS analyses, and appropriate statistical techniques for addressing questions of interest to water supply managers.
July 2017: Types of constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment
Constructed wetlands have been used for wastewater treatment since the 1960’s. The first installations were put in operation in Germany; however, at present this technology is used across the globe. Constructed wetlands can be classified according to a) presence or absence of water on the surface (surface and subsurface flow), b) flow direction (horizontal, vertical) and c) according to the type of vegetation used. Constructed wetlands can be used to treat municipal, industrial and agricultural wastewaters, as well as for treatment of storm water runoff from urban areas, agriculture, roads and highways, golf courses, nurseries and for landfill leachate and mine drainage.
Jan Vymazal graduated from the University of Chemistry and Technology Prague where he also received his Ph.D. degree. Currently, he is a professor in the Environmental Sciences department at the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague. Jan is also an adjunct associate professor at Duke University’s Wetlands Center in Durham, North Carolina. His major research is focused on wastewater treatment in constructed wetlands and nutrient cycling in natural wetlands. He has authored more than 100 research papers in peer-reviewed journals, edited ten books and authored two monographs. Jan is a member of editorial boards of several international journals and he is the Editor in Chief of the journal Ecological Engineering. From 2009 to 2012, he was a chair of the IWA Specialized Group on Wetland System for Water Pollution Control and he is one of the past presidents of the SWS Europe Chapter.
May 2017: Using sediment enhancement to build tidal marsh resiliency on Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland, USA
Located in Maryland, USA, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is part of the largest area of tidal marsh within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and is of regional ecological significance for its wetlands and for the wildlife populations it supports. However, over 5,000 acres of tidal marsh have converted to open water on the refuge since 1938. The mechanisms contributing to Blackwater’s tidal marsh loss are generally attributed to a combination of sea level rise, subsidence, and herbivory by nutria.
In many areas on the refuge the elevation of the marsh surface is low relative to local tides, leading to excessive inundation. More than 80% of elevation points recently surveyed on Blackwater NWR were found to be well below the elevations needed for optimum plant growth for the refuge’s tide range (Kirwan and Guntenspergen 2012). When marsh vegetation is at an elevation below that which is optimal for plant growth, the rising sea level will further inhibit root zone growth and lead to additional marsh loss. On Blackwater NWR, vertical marsh development is particularly dependent on organic accretion driven by below-ground biomass production (Cahoon et al. 2010).
In December 2016, 26,000 cubic yards of sediment was pumped in a thin-layer application over approximately 40 acres of tidal marsh on the refuge. The purpose of this project is to raise the elevation of the existing marsh platform. The sediment enhancement will offer a twofold ecological benefit to marsh resilience: 1) The longevity of the marsh receiving thin layer sediment application will be extended by virtue of the raised surface elevation in relation to the tidal regime; and 2) Root zone production, and consequently rates of vertical accretion, should increase. Root zone production is the main driver of vertical accretion rates in the Blackwater River system (Cahoon and Guntnerspergen 2010). Building the marsh platform to an elevation that maximizes plant productivity will take full advantage of the capacity of the marsh to continue to build elevation (Kirwan and Guntenspergen 2012).
Matt Whitbeck is the supervisory wildlife biologist at Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Maryland. Matt has over 19 years’ experience working in tidal marshes and natural resource management issues on National Wildlife Refuges. He has an M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from Texas A&M University.
April 2017: The Clean Water Rule: Real Facts
The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) published the “Clean Water Rule: Definition of “Waters of the United States” in 2015 to provide clarification on which US water bodies and wetlands are “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) and thus, regulated jointly by the USACOE and USEPA under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Rule developed from several iterations of clarification memoranda that followed United States v. Riverside Bayview (1985), Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (2001), and most importantly, Rapanos et al. v. United States (2006). The rule contains eight categories of water bodies and wetlands and extensive definitions and exemptions to clarify which water bodies and wetlands are WOTUS and which are not. The exemption list formalizes in one source exemptions from various US Federal laws and policies. In this webinar, I will discuss the eight categories of WOTUS, their scientific bases for inclusion, the specific conditions required of each and the exemptions and common misinterpretations. The fate of the Clean Water Rule has been in US national news since January. The Rule is currently stayed nationwide by the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Richard Chinn grew up in a non-science household; but early on, developed a love for sciences, pursuing a Bachelor's of Science degree at the University of Florida and a Master's of Science degree at the University of South Florida, with a major in zoology for both degrees. He began working for a number of state and regional governmental agencies in 1984 and then transitioned to the consulting world in 1992. Since 1997, he has provided environmental and wetland training as Richard Chinn Environmental Training. Richard has spent much of the last 20 years studying wetland regulations and has been avidly studying the WOTUS Rule nearly every work day since it was released. He has explained this rule to 600+ wetland scientists in 30+ courses over the last two years. Richard is a lifetime member of SWS and you may have recently seen his name on the SWS 2017 ballot as a candidate for President-Elect. Regardless of the outcome of the election, you can say hello to Richard at the Annual Meeting in Puerto Rico and learn “A Quick, Inexpensive, Easy Field Protocol to Determine Anoxia in Hydric Soils of Various Wetlands” from his talk. In his leisure time, Richard recently completed a novel, "The Enemy of My Enemy," a fictionalized story of the Doolittle Raid of World War II.
March 2017: The Challenges and Successes of Incorporating Coastal Wetlands into the U.S. Inventory of GHG Emissions and Sinks
Land use accounts for about a quarter of anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, globally, and offers significant mitigation potential. There are linkages with adaptation and food security. Inclusion of land use is a topic of interest in the development of international climate agreements and is essential to meet the goal of avoiding dangerous tipping points of climate change.
It is estimated that, globally, drainage and excavation of mangrove, salt marsh and seagrass wetland soils release 450 million tons of CO2, annually (range 150-1005 MtCO2/yr). This is an emission roughly equivalent to that of California, but is an incomplete estimate as it does not recognize all human impacts to coastal wetlands (e.g. increased CH4 emissions from impaired tidal drainage and release of CO2 with anthropogenically driven wetland erosion).
The U.S. Inventory of GHG Emissions and Sinks (Inventory) chapter on land use, “Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF),” reports carbon stock change and emissions of CH4 and N2O, with activities on and conversion between forest lands, croplands, grasslands, settlement and wetlands. With the release of the 2013 IPCC Supplement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National GHG Inventories: Wetlands (Wetlands Supplement), the United States is seeking to include emissions and removals with management activities on coastal wetlands and is responding to a request by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for Parties to report back in March 2017 on experience in applying the Wetlands Supplement.
To support the EPA, NOAA and Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE) have formed an interagency and science community, Coastal Wetland Carbon Working Group (CWCWG). The task of the CWCWG is to conduct an initial IPCC Tier 1 to Tier 2 baseline assessment of GHG emissions and removals associated with coastal wetlands using the procedures described in the recently released IPCC Wetlands Supplement. These initial efforts have assisted EPA with incorporating some preliminary results into the 2016 submission of the U.S. national GHG inventory as an information item, with the goal of full reporting in the 2017 submission. We will report on an update of current activities in support of that goal.
Steve Crooks, Ph.D., is a founder and Principal at Silvestrum Climate Associates, working on integrated climate adaptation and mitigation in coastal areas. He is also a wetland restoration practitioner and a founder of the International Blue Carbon Initiative. Steve was a national delegate to the Paris Climate Negotiations and a lead author of the IPCC Wetland Supplement, providing guidance on inclusion of coastal wetlands in national GHG Inventories.
Dr. Tiffany Troxler directs the Sea Level Solutions Center at Florida International University, a state university center that focuses on advancing knowledge, decision making and actions toward mitigating the causes and adapting to the effects of sea-level rise. She is a research scientist with expertise in coastal and wetland ecosystem science. Some of her projects include collaborative research that examines the effects of saltwater inundation on Everglades coastal wetlands, monitoring management actions associated with Everglades restoration and advancing interdisciplinary urban solutions to sea-level rise. Troxler is author of over 30 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and was co-editor and contributing author on two IPCC methodological reports published in 2014 that guide greenhouse gas emissions estimation associated with land use and land-use change in wetlands.
February 2017: Liquid Assets: Building and Sustaining a State-Based Aquatic Ecological Restoration Program
Learn how Massachusetts created the first-in-the-nation, state-based, aquatic, ecological restoration division. With a focus on aquatic ecosystems, DER actively manages over 60 physical restoration projects. Restoration techniques include dam removal, culvert replacement, fill removal, urban river revitalization, water conservation and stream daylighting. Since 2012, DER has leveraged almost $20 million in non-state funds and nearly a $25 million in volunteer assistance. DER and partners have removed 43 dams, providing hundreds of miles of river continuity, and restored over 1,500 acres of coastal wetlands.
This webinar will highlight project successes, including the largest Atlantic white cedar swamp restoration in the Northeast (Eel River, Plymouth, MA) and other complex river and wetland restoration projects.
DER provides a template in how to create, tailor and promote a government-sponsored, ecological restoration program. A description of the tools that have been most effective in attracting and leveraging limited, state funding will also be discussed.
Tim Purinton oversees a nationally award-winning division that coordinates river, wetland and stream flow restoration projects, across the state. Tim was awarded a Governor Bradford Fellowship for Excellence in Public Administration, which allowed him to receive a MPA from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
January 2017: Restoring the River Flows
River flows have been recognized as the key driver of freshwater biodiversity by many ecologists. However, the understanding of such an important driver by the public, the industry and policy-makers is very limited. This presentation explains the importance of river flows and the key challenges, and shares WWF’s works in maintaining and restoring river flows, where possible, through tactics including: understanding and assessing environmental flows, restoring the river connectivity, managing and re-operating the existing infrastructures, promoting integrated basin planning and mainstreaming environmental flows into national and global policies.
Dr. Li was the Director of WWF Global Freshwater Program from 2008-2016 and led WWF’s works on freshwater conservation in many of the world’s large rivers, including the Amazon, Rio Grande and Rio Conchos, Amur, Yangtze, Mekong, Ganges, Indus, Danube, Balkan rivers and Zambezi. He has been working on water and river basin management in WWF since 2002 and was the leader of WWF’s work on basin management in China and restoration in the Central Yangtze.
December 2016: Life in the Mud: Relevance to Food Security, Climate Change, and Water Quality
Freshwater wetlands, coastal wetlands, benthic sediments of lakes, rivers, streams, marine sediments and paddy soils, all have one thing in common: mud. Many biological communities use mud as their habitat to support their livelihood. These include microbial communities, invertebrates and plant communities. Typically, mud in these ecosystems is present under water and very little or no oxygen is present in the mud to support their respiration. In this presentation, I will present key of roles of little players, i.e., microbial communities playing large roles in regulating various ecosystem processes that may have a direct link to global food security, water quality and climate change. For example, for the role of mud in food security, I will present global examples of how rice production is mediated by biogeochemical processes, regulated by various microbial communities housed in paddy soils. Similarly, I will provide various examples of the importance of mud in various ecosystems, as related to water quality, carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions.
K. Ramesh Reddy is a graduate research professor of biogeochemistry and the chairman of the Soil and Water Sciences department at the University of Florida. He conducts research in the areas of coupled biogeochemical cycling of nutrients, as related to surface water quality, restoration wetlands and aquatic systems, ecological indicators, carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions. Reddy has served on numerous advisory committees at state, national and international levels to assist agencies in developing science-based policy. Reddy has supervised 60 doctoral and master thesis committees and has served on an additional 130 graduate student committees. Publications related to Reddy’s research can be viewed here: http://soils.ifas.ufl.edu/wetlands. His select awards and honors include: the 1988 Fellow Award from the Soil Science Society of America, the 1988 Fellow Award from the American Society of Agronomy; the 2001 Soil Science Applied Research Award from the Soil Science Society of America; the 2002 Environmental Quality Research Award from the American Society of Agronomy; the 2002 Fellow Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award from INTECOL; the 2016 National Wetlands Award for research from the Environmental Law Institute and 2016 SWS Lifetime Achievement Award.
November 2016: Reclaiming, Using and Protecting Wetlands: the Dutch Approach
The Netherlands is the common delta of 3 major rivers. Originally a vast expanse of salt marshes, floodplains, swamps and large bogs, the Dutch started to live there on dwelling mounds 2000 years ago. From the 11th century, farmers and monasteries joined forces to build dikes, culminating in large reclamations funded by merchants and noblemen in the 17th century. Only in the 20th century, wetland protection became an issue, while new wetland areas are being created since 25 years. This story is about the vast original wetland wilderness, the ways the Dutch reshaped it into their minutely controlled country, about major floods and continuous innovations in ways to control or make use of wetlands. It ends with the current status, which includes a movie trailer on the Oostvaardersplassen, a vast wetland wilderness of only 40 years old.
Jos Verhoeven is professor emeritus of landscape ecology at the Department of Biology of Utrecht University, The Netherlands. He is also a Research Associate of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, USA. He is the President of the Society of Wetland Scientist’s Europe chapter and a member of the executive board of INTECOL, the International Association of Ecology. Until 2015, he was the chairman of the Center for Wetland Ecology, a consortium of 20 research groups in the Netherlands and Flanders, and acted as the coordinator of the Hotspot “Shallow waters and peat meadow areas” of the Dutch national research program Knowledge for Climate. His research focuses on the biogeochemistry of wetlands at the ecosystem level, primarily the interactions between the biogeochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus and the relation between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. His studies involve nutrient-related studies of fens, bogs, river floodplains, freshwater tidal wetlands, lake marginal wetlands and mangroves, as well as the impacts of nutrient loading of wetlands on water quality and on greenhouse gas emissions, in the context to climate change and land use change.
Please click here to watch the trailer from New Wilderness.
October 2016: Will Reintroduction of Fire along Coastal Gradients Promote Lateral Migration of Marsh and Enhance Biodiversity?
Julia Cherry received her B.S. in Biology from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee in 1999 and her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences at the University of Alabama in 2005. After completing a post-doctoral appointment at the USGS National Wetlands Research Center (NWRC) in Lafayette, Louisiana, Julia returned to the University of Alabama in 2006 as an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Biological Sciences and New College. She has since been promoted to the rank of Associate Professor. Currently, her research is aimed at understanding the effects of climate change and other environmental impacts on wetlands of the southeastern United States. She serves as the SWS Treasurer and the Ways and Means Committee Co-Chair.
Loretta Battaglia is a community ecologist with over 25 years of experience working in wetlands. She received her B.S. in Zoology in 1988 and her M.S. in Biology in 1991 from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. She received her Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Georgia in 1998. Following graduation, Loretta entered a post-doctoral position at Louisiana State University. In 2003, she accepted a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in the Department of Plant Biology at Southern Illinois University (SIU) where she was promoted to Associate Professor in 2009. She is interested in the dynamics of wetland plant communities and the ecological processes that link them with the surrounding landscape. Specifically, research in her lab focuses on the effects of climate change and exotic species invasions on community structure and function, as well as development of restoration targets for coastal wetlands undergoing rapid climate change. Loretta’s current projects include research on assisted migration and prescribed burning as management tools in coastal ecosystems threatened by climate change. She serves as the SWS Secretary General and the Membership Committee Chair.
September 2016: Highlights and Overview of the 2011 National Wetland Condition Assessment (NWCA) and Upcoming 2016 NWCA
Highlights and Overview of the 2011 National Wetland Condition Assessment (NWCA) and Upcoming 2016 NWCA presented a summary of the methods and findings of the first national assessment of wetland condition and a preview of the 2016 assessment. The NWCA is part of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) National Aquatic Resource Surveys, and is conducted every five years by the USEPA and its federal and state partners. The survey design allows extrapolation of results to national and regional scales, while chemical, physical, and biological measures are used to measure wetland condition and stressor extent. The results of the 2011 assessment and all NARS surveys are presented in a report available to the public. The webinar was presented by Mary E. Kentula, who is a wetland ecologist with the USEPA’s National Health and Environmental Effects Laboratory’s Western Ecology Division and the technical lead for the NWCA.
Dr. Mary E. Kentula is a Wetlands Ecologist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) National Health and Environmental Effects Laboratory, Western Ecology Division in Corvallis, Oregon. From 1992 through 1996 she served as the national program leader for the Agency’s Wetland Research Program and was responsible for directing and coordinating studies of freshwater wetlands across the nation. Mary’s research within the Program focused on the use of restoration techniques in wetland management. Among Mary’s publications from that work is the book, Wetland Creation and Restoration: The Status of the Science, which she co-edited with Dr. Jon Kusler in 1990. Mary’s current work supports the EPA’s National Aquatic Resource Surveys through the development of approaches to monitor and report on the ecological condition of wetlands. Among her awards, the Society of Wetland Scientists recognized Dr. Kentula with the Merit Award in 2007 for her work in assessing wetlands at the watershed scale. This was followed by the successful completion of the 2011 National Wetland Condition Assessment (NWCA). Mary’s research team led the production of the field operations manual used in the assessment, played a major role in data analysis and reporting, contributed to the final report and wrote the technical report. The technical report details the analysis used in the NWCA. The team is currently providing technical support for the 2016 assessment.
August 2016: Status and Trends of Wetland Restoration
The practice of wetland restoration and our understanding of wetland science has evolved significantly over the last 50 years. However, numerous studies have documented the shortcomings of wetland mitigation and voluntary restoration projects to achieve stated goals. In 2013, the Association of State Wetland Managers began to identify some barriers to wetland restoration and established a Work Group of 25 restoration experts, including practitioners, academics, consultants, regulators, and policy makers, to further identify and analyze these barriers and develop recommendations to address them. There is general agreement among restoration professionals that the science exists to achieve restoration goals and that wetland restoration performance will improve if certain barriers are addressed. Climate change has heightened the interest in using wetland restoration as a tool for mitigation and adaptation and thus the goals and designs for wetland restoration have become more complex and diverse. Although there is no "cookbook approach" for wetland restoration, there are concrete steps we can take to improve restoration outcomes. This presentation will discuss the findings of the Association of State Wetland Managers and its Wetland Restoration Work Group including recommendations from its draft white paper, "Wetland Restoration: Contemporary Issues & Lessons Learned."
Marla J. Stelk is a Policy Analyst at the Association of State Wetland Managers. She has been ASWM’s project leader for two U.S. EPA wetland restoration grants and coordinates a wetland restoration workgroup. Marla coordinates and moderates the Wetland Mapping Consortium and the Natural Floodplain Functions Alliance webinar series. She is also the Association’s Communications Team leader and the Editor of Wetland Breaking News. Marla comes to ASWM with a strong professional background in environmental issues, stakeholder engagement, facilitation, special events and communications. She has been focused on climate change issues for 20 years, beginning in 1997. At ASWM she has continued her work on climate change issues and is a member of the Advisory Committee on the Water Information Water Resources Adaptation to Climate Change Workgroup. Marla earned her MA in Community Planning and Development with a focus on Land Use and the Environment at the Muskie School of Public Service and her BA in Environmental Issues from Colorado College.
Jeanne Christie has been with ASWM since 1999 and Executive Director since 2001. From 1995 to 1999 she was a Resource Conservationist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Wetlands and Watersheds Division where she was national program leader for the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program. She worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Wetlands Division (1988-1995) moving from the staff level to Section Chief and Acting Branch Chief. As an environmental planner at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (1985-1988) responsibilities included the Green Bay Remedial Action Plan and the 208 Watershed Plan for Southeastern Wisconsin. She has a B.A. in Political Science and a B.S. in Environmental Science, both from the University of Maine at Presque Isle. Jeanne is a 2007 winner of the National Wetlands Award for Education and Outreach.
July 2016: Lessons Learned from Large Scale Wetland Restoration: Case Studies from around the U.S.
Jeff Trulick with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will present lessons learned from the many decades of Corps planning, design and implementation of major wetland restoration projects.
New Mid-Atlantic President, Jeff Trulick, is with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Jeff works in the headquarters office conducting planning, environmental and policy reviews on primarily Corps feasibility studies across their various mission areas, which includes Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration. Jeff will present lessons learned from the many decades of Corps planning, design and implementation of major wetland restoration projects.
May 2016: Structural and Functional Responses of Coastal Wetlands to Changes in Mangrove Cover
Global changes are causing broad-scale shifts in vegetation communities worldwide, including in coastal wetlands where mangrove stands are increasing their range and displacing salt marshes. Coastal wetlands provide valuable ecosystem services including: habitat and food web support, buffering coastal areas from storms and sea level rise and filtering water. Coastal wetlands also store more carbon per area in their soils than other ecosystems, making them globally important “blue carbon” sinks. Changes in carbon storage rates based on vegetation shifts may represent important feedbacks to climate change and since changes in soil carbon storage influence soil elevation, may alter vulnerability of coastal wetlands and the services they provide. Changes between functionally distinct woody mangroves and marsh vegetation are likely to alter ecosystem function, and changes in proportion of each vegetation type may have non-linear effects. Yet, we lack an adequate understanding of how changing foundation species identity and density will affect coastal ecosystem structure and function.
Mangrove range and cover fluctuate due to expansion during periods with warm winters and loss from severe freezes and anthropogenic impacts. In Texas, black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) cover increased by 74% between 1990 and 2010. With increasing winter temperatures, black mangroves are predicted to replace salt marshes throughout much of the Gulf Coast within this century. To understand likely functional implications of vegetation change, a common technique is to compare structural and functional differences among existing mangrove, salt marsh and mixed vegetation communities, but this method runs the risk of confounding the effects of the vegetation community with underlying abiotic conditions. Thus, we created a field experiment in which mangrove density was manipulated to represent 0-100% mangrove cover in ten 24 x 42 m plots in Port Aransas, Texas (just down the road from SWS 2016 Corpus Christi!). We tested how plant species identity and density alter: 1) microclimate 2) magnitude and mechanisms of changes in carbon storage 3) marsh vegetation regeneration and 4) habitat use by birds.
This talk will 1) outline changes in mangrove cover in coastal wetlands particularly in the US Gulf Coast, 2) utilize the literature of woody encroachment to expand understanding of functional implications of vegetation change in coastal wetlands, and 3) introduce our upcoming paper and additional findings highlighting the functional impacts of coastal wetland vegetation change.
Sean Charles is a PhD candidate at Florida International University (Major Professor Dr. John Kominoski). Sean is interested in how global and local anthropogenic impacts alter wetland ecosystem functions, services and vulnerability. Sean is currently investigating the ways that biogeochemical changes associated with sea-level rise and vegetation shifts caused by global climate change alter carbon storage and vulnerability in coastal wetlands, both in the Florida Everglades and in Coastal Texas. Sean is an active member of SWS, and is currently the student representative for the Education and Outreach and Wetland Ambassador committees.
Sean holds a master’s degree from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (Major Professor Dr. Jim Perry), during which he looked at the development of functions in created forested wetlands and analyzed their success in the mitigation process.
This webinar will cover research conducted in coastal Texas with Principal Investigator Dr. Steve Pennings (University of Houston) and co-PIs Dr. Anna Armitage (Texas A & M Galveston) and Dr. John Kominoski (Florida International University).
April 2016: Climate Change and the Future of Blue Carbon
This webinar highlights what blue carbon is, why it's important and how it has an impact on climate change.
Salt marsh soils are the world’s most efficient carbon (C) sinks and have been so for millennia – but will they continue to be with warming climate and rapid rates of sea level rise? Over the last few thousand years the rate of sea level rise has enabled salt marsh vegetation to survive tidal flooding and accumulate C-rich soils, primarily through belowground production enhanced by contributions of mineral sediments deposited by tidal floodwaters. Globally, marsh soils store C, on average at a rate of 218 g m-2 yr-1, while emissions of the greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide are negligible. More importantly, marsh deposits hold at least 1,275 million metric tonnes of C globally. In recognition of their value as a C sink the carbon in salt marshes (along with that of mangroves and seagrasses) has been branded as “blue carbon”. There are now standards for calculation of the C stored through restoration of these ecosystems that can place blue carbon on the C market.
Funding from C markets should enhance restoration activities and restoration values should be based not only the renewal of active C sinks, but on stemming continued loss of the ancient C held in soils. However, since we can never “re-sequester” all the C that has been lost and we must not allow existing marsh to be replaced with “new” marsh through mitigation. If mitigation formulas included compensation for loss of existing marsh C stocks most mitigation projects would be untenable.
Climate Change and the Future of Blue Carbon was presented by Dr. Gail Chmura on Thursday, April 14, 2016. Dr. Gail Chmura is an Associate Professor in the Geography Department at McGill University, past Director of Quebec’s Global Environment and Climate Change Centre and past president of the Atlantic Canada Coastal and Estuarine Science Society. She has conducted research on tidal wetlands along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts; and over a wide range of latitudes, from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico. Recently, she was a lead author of the Coastal Wetlands chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) publication Guidelines on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories: Wetlands. Dr. Chmura has used techniques of paleoecology, modern ecology and geomorphology to study tidal marsh response to sea level change, impacts of climate change and human perturbations on coastal ecosystems, and ecosystem services of natural and recovering salt marshes. Presently, her lab’s research is largely focused on impacts of nutrient pollution on coastal ecosystems, assessment of soil carbon stocks and rates, and greenhouse gases fluxes in salt marshes.
March 2016: Using Apex Predators & Trophic Cascades Mechanisms to Create Resilient Wetlands in a Warming World
Trophic cascades are relationships, in which, an apex predator produces direct efforts on its prey and indirect changes in faunal and floral communities. Direct predator effects on prey can be density-dependent (morality) and behavioral. By the early 1900s, apex predators had been removed from the ecosystems in North America, which lead to an irruption in prey population followed by unsustainable herbivory. Impacts in riparian areas and wetland include extensive removal of streambank vegetation, which resulted in elimination of habitat for taxa dependenct on vegetation, and signifcant reduction in biodiversity. These cascading effects further lead to streambank erosion, and increase in water temperature, and a decline in fish populations and diversity of wetland species. Environmental legislation and policy changes in the 1970s have led to restoration of apex predators to portions of North America.
These environmental changes led Cristina Eisenberg to present a comparison of North American riparian ecological community dynamics and resilency in systems with and without apex predatoring, which was drawn by a variety of studies. Then, she concluded her webinar presentation by dicussing how using apex predators and trophic cascades mechanisms to restore ecological resilency can effectively help mitigate climate change.
Using Apex Predators and Trophic Cascades Mechanisms to Create Resilient Wetlands in a Warming World, was presented by Cristina Eisenberg on March 17th, 2016. Cristina Eisenberg is the Chief Scientist at Earthwatch Institute, where she directs a citizen-science research program that is addressing global change. As an ecologist, for the past decade she has been leading a long-term ecological restoration research program in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, in which she is investigating how fire, apex predators, and bison can be used to restore grassland, aspen, and wetland habitat. She has a master's degree in conservation biology from Prescott College and a PhD in Forestry and Wildlife from Oregon State University. A Smithsonian Research Associate and a Boone and Crockett Club professional member, she serves on the editorial board of the Ecological Society of America, Oregon State University Press, and the literary journal Whitefish Review. She is currently working on writing her third book, Taking the Heat: Wilflife, Food Webs and Extinction in a Warming World.
February 2016: The Importance of Wetlands in the Global Carbon Cycle
In Bill Moomaw's webinar, he discussed how wetland restoration might be used to reduce the growth and absolute amounts of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere while meeting other ecosystems service goals.
Dr. Nigel Roulet's webinar addressed the importance of keeping the large northern store of carbon in wetlands and avoid emitting it to the atmosphere.
The Importance of Wetlands in Addressing Climate Change, and creating a Role for Wetlands through the Paris Climate Accord was presented by Bill Moomaw on February 11th, 2016. Bill is an Emeritus Professor of International Environmental Policy and founder of the Center for International Environment and Resource policy at Tufts University. In addition, Bill is the Co- Director of the Global Development and Environment Institute and Research Professor at Tufts University. Currently, he is researching fossil fuel externalities and the role of Restorative Development in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by forest, wetlands, grasslands and agricultural soils, and correctly accounting for emissions from bioenergy.
Dr. Nigel Roulet presented on the Northern Peatlands and the Global Carbon Balance- Why All Need to Care! Dr. Nigel Roulet is a James McGill Professor of Biogeneosciences in the Department of Geography. He currently is an Associate Editor of Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Hydrological Processes, and Ecosystems and has been an Associate Editor of Wetlands and the Journal of Geophysical Research. Nigel became a member of the Academy of Science of the Royal Society of Canada in 2014 and his research focuses on the interaction among hydrology, climatology, and ecosystems processes in peatlands and forested catchments of the temperate, boreal, and arctic regions.
January 2016: Climate Change in the American Mind
The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication specializes in understanding public climate change knowledge, attitudes, policy preferences, and behavior and the underlying psychological, cultural and political factors that drive public responses.
After summarizing the latest findings about American public opinion on climate change, this webinar will provide practical insight and actionable guidance for understanding your audience’s relationship to the issue, determining the right climate or renewables messages to use, finding the best community members to work with to best disseminate your message, and more. YPCCC’s publicly available data and tools from their segmentation of the public into “Global Warming’s Six Americas” will be shared, as will their maps of public opinion about climate change at scales useful in local and regional work.
Climate Change in the American Mind: What we think, feel, do and understand about global warming and how wetlands professionals can speak about it with their constituencies, presented by Lisa Fernandez on January 14, 2016. Lisa oversees operations and communications strategy at the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. In particular she manages outreach concerning the YPCCC’s signature research project: the Climate Change in the American Mind biannual survey measuring American public opinion on global warming.
December 2015: Wetlands and Agriculture
This webinar links up with the conclusions and recommendations from the Conference, “Wetlands in Agricultural Landscapes”, held in České Budějovice from October 11-16, 2015. The Conference was actuated in order to evaluate the potential for integrating mostly temperate-zone wetlands into intensely managed agricultural landscapes. Over 170 participants from 20 countries attended, including both wetland and agriculture scientists, as well as nature conservationists and agriculture managers.
Wetlands are amongst the most threatened habitats on Earth; in some areas up to 80% of wetlands have been lost in Europe since 1700. The key driver in the loss and degradation of wetlands has been agriculture, although important indirect drivers have also been population growth and economic development. The pressure on wetlands, and consequent loss in their area and quality, has been most severe in countries with a long history of intense agriculture. This process may be further intensified by ongoing climate change. At the same time, however, many wetlands worldwide still remain important for fisheries as well as crop production, especially in small-scale farming. Moreover, many traditional farming practices take place in human-made wetlands such as wet meadows, rice paddies and fish ponds. The valuable functions and ecosystem services of wetlands were defined on the one hand, and the important role of agriculture in food production and landscape formation was on the other. The Conference devoted special attention to the following broadly conceived topics:
- Water retention and climatic effects of wetlands on surrounding agricultural land.
- Biodiversity conservation/promotion in relation to various agricultural management practices.
- Wetland restoration and creation in predominantly agricultural regions.
- Role of wetlands in the abatement of agricultural pollution from both point and non-point sources.
- Paludiculture, its advantages and limitations. Paludiculture is the agri- or silvicultural use of re-wetted peatlands and other wetlands.
- Legislation, financial incentives and involvement of stakeholders.
The general conclusions of the Conference have been summarized as follows: There is considerable scope for obtaining many mutual benefits from the use, restoration and creation of wetlands in intensely-managed agricultural landscapes. Wetlands help fulfil the current needs of agriculture by mitigating climate change, enhancing water retention, abating agricultural pollution, and also by offering potential for innovative agricultural technologies, also including the breeding of crops tolerant of water-logging or even shallow inundation. The dissipation of the energy of incoming solar radiation through intense wetland evapotranspiration results in a more balanced climate in agriculturally used areas adjacent to wetlands. In addition, wetlands support the diversity of species, habitats and landscapes, and provide opportunities for leisure time activities. The loss of these benefits through the destruction of wetlands can partly be compensated by wetland restoration. It is, however, expensive and may require decades to achieve the desired goals.
Wetlands and Agriculture, presented by Dr. Jan Květ on December 17, 2015. Dr. Květ is a well known ecologist who has worked in the field of wetlands ecology and, especially, production ecology of wetland plants and vegetation.
November 2015: Wetland Restoration & Management in a Future of Changing Climate
The nature of future climate change will dictate avenues of successful wetland restoration and management. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2014) suggests that future wetland environments may have high levels of water availability (extreme drought and flooding), temperature and CO2. Unfortunately, not enough information is available for near-future restoration planning on the potential responses of wetland species to climate change environments. Along sinking coasts, especially freshwater wetland species may be impacted by increased salinity intrusion, flooding, and hurricane activity. Increasing human demand for freshwater may have a major impact on both inland and coastal wetlands. Some recent research has examined minimum flows of water necessary to maintain function of riverine wetlands. For example, studies along the Mississippi in LA USA and Murray River in Australia suggest that even short periods of freshwater release could be beneficial to freshwater trees in hydrologically-altered estuaries. More research directed toward solutions to climate-induced problems may help managers develop approaches to vegetation stress in future restored and natural wetlands. Another idea that may need reconsideration is that of the reestablishment of presettlement conditions, which may be an unattainable target for restoration in climate change environments. Current day attention to potential future environments in wetlands may yield more successful restoration efforts for the future.
Wetland Restoration & Management in a Future of Changing Climate, presented by Dr. Beth A. Middleton on November 11, 2015. Dr. Middleton is a research ecologist with the National Wetlands Research Center, U.S. Geological Survey in Lafayette, Louisiana.
October 2015: Moving beyond Global Warming Potentials to Quantify the Climatic Role of Wetlands
Within the scientific, policy, and restoration communities, there is considerable interest in understanding the role of wetlands in influencing global climate. Wetlands are the single largest natural source of methane to the atmosphere but also sequester significant amounts of carbon in soils and woody biomass. In systems experiencing nitrogen pollution, wetlands can also emit substantial amounts of nitrous oxide to the atmosphere. Does the cooling effect due to carbon sequestration in wetlands offset the warming caused by the emissions of methane and nitrous oxide?
This webinar will cover 1) an overview of major concepts and biogeochemical processes related to the production and consumption of greenhouse gases by wetlands, 2) the historical approach of using global warming potentials (GWPs) to assess the climatic role of wetlands, and 3) alternate metrics (sustained-flux global warming and cooling potentials, SGWPs and SGCPs) and modeling approaches that can be used to determine whether wetlands have a net warming or cooling effect on Earth’s climate. Because one assumption underlying the use of global warming potentials is that greenhouse gases are emitted as a single pulse, we argue that the use of global warming potentials is inappropriate for use in wetlands (and, in fact, all ecosystems) since the production and consumption of greenhouse gases are not one-time events but occur year after year. The alternate metrics that we will discuss are more appropriate for use when gas fluxes persist over time and thus should provide a more accurate assessment of the climatic effect of wetlands. For cases where gas fluxes change over time (e.g., as a wetland matures following restoration) or if one is interested in knowing the lifetime climatic role of a wetland, a dynamic modeling approach is likely to provide more relevant information than would obtained with a fixed-timeframe metric such as the SGWP, SGCP, or GWP.
Many of the concepts that will be discussed in this webinar can be found in a paper that was recently authored by the presenter and Dr. J. Patrick Megonigal; individuals who wish to read the paper [Neubauer, SC and JP Megonigal. 2015. Moving beyond global warming potentials to quantify the climatic role of ecosystems. Ecosystems. 18:1000-1013].
Moving Beyond Global Warming Potentials to Quantify the Climatic Role of Wetlands, presented by Dr. Scott Neubauer on October 15, 2015. Dr. Neubauer is an ecosystem ecologist and biogeochemist with broad interests in understanding the functioning of ecosystems (especially coastal wetlands) and their responses to environmental change at both global and local scales.
September 2015: Innovative Policy Opportunities for Wetland Conservation
Coastal wetlands provide many benefits to human communities including increasing resilience to climate change and severe weather. Despite the important services they provide, coastal wetlands continue to be lost at rapid rates around the world, and the U.S. is no exception. At the same time, there are numerous opportunities to incorporate wetland restoration or protection into innovative or emerging environmental policies related to climate change mitigation and adaptation or sustainability. By better understanding and valuing the ecosystem services provided by coastal wetlands, we can leverage these policy opportunities to improve coastal management and decision making. This presentation will discuss three of those services and the policy opportunities associated with each: (1) coastal blue carbon where the carbon sequestration and storage of coastal wetlands can be incorporated into climate mitigation efforts; (2) natural (or green) and hybrid infrastructure for storm and erosion protection; and (3) nature and biodiversity impacts on human health.
Innovative Policy Opportunities for Wetland Conservation was presented by Dr. Ariana Sutton-Grier on September 15, 2015. Dr. Sutton-Grier is an ecosystem ecologist with expertise in wetland ecology and restoration, biodiversity, biogeochemistry, climate change and ecosystem services.