Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rethinking wetland restoration: Smaller wetlands more valuable than previously thought

25.03.2015

Most efforts to protect and restore wetlands mistakenly focus on preserving only total wetland area, with no consideration of ecosystem services provided by different wetland types, according to a new study from the University of Waterloo.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Ecological Applications last month, shows wetland loss follows a strong pattern, with smaller, isolated wetlands being lost in much greater numbers than larger wetlands.


Most efforts to protect and restore wetlands mistakenly focus on preserving only total wetland area, with no consideration of ecosystem services provided by different wetland types, according to a new study from the University of Waterloo. The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Ecological Applications last month, shows wetland loss follows a strong pattern, with smaller, isolated wetlands being lost in much greater numbers than larger wetlands. Researchers used high-resolution remote sensing images, elevation data, and the US National Wetlands Inventory dataset to compare historical wetland areas with today's boundaries in the Des Moines Lobe (Iowa) portion of the Prairie Pothole Region.

Credit: Ducks Unlimited, Inc.

Doctoral student Kim Van Meter and Professor Nandita Basu from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences in the Faculty of Science argue that not only have we drained large numbers of smaller, isolated wetlands, but that the remaining wetlands have much simpler shapes, leading to an extensive loss of wetland perimeter. It has been shown that wetland perimeters provide important habitat for aquatic species and allow for more chemical reactivity to improve water quality.

Smaller wetlands also function best as a group, forming an interconnected "landscape mosaic" which provide unique habitat and safe breeding grounds for species such as salamanders and migratory birds.

As described in another recent paper by Basu in the journal Bioscience, these small, geographically isolated wetlands act like landscape filters, preventing excess nutrients, sediments and contaminants from entering larger waterways.

Unfortunately, many restoration efforts have focused simply on restoring wetland area, with no consideration of the type or size of the wetlands being restored.

"We didn't expect to see such a strong, preferential loss of smaller wetlands," says Basu, who is also cross-appointed with Civil and Environmental Engineering and a member of the Water Institute. "It's not just a local phenomenon. Smaller wetlands are the least protected under most environmental regulations."

"Many people would say 'What's the big deal if we drain this small area?'" says Van Meter. "But these smaller wetlands are integral to a larger wetland network."

Van Meter and Basu used high-resolution remote sensing images, elevation data, and the US National Wetlands Inventory dataset to compare historical wetland areas with today's boundaries in the Des Moines Lobe (Iowa) portion of the Prairie Pothole Region.

It's a cautionary tale from a region that has lost more than 90 per cent of its wetlands since European settlers arrived two centuries ago. Even though this study was done in the prairies, it applies everywhere according to Van Meter. Between 70 and 80 per cent of Ontario's wetlands have disappeared since 1800 - and here also smaller, isolated wetlands have been preferentially lost.

Basu and Van Meter believe current ad hoc restoration approaches can be dramatically improved. They plan to expand their framework to southern Ontario and incorporate the results into a modeling tool that will help decision makers maximize restoration value, or decide which areas are best left preserved.

###

This research was funded in part by the University of Waterloo.

Media Contact

Nick Manning
nmanning@uwaterloo.ca
226-929-7627

 @uWaterlooNews

http://www.uwaterloo.ca/ 

Nick Manning | EurekAlert!

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Scientists shed light on carbon's descent into the deep Earth
19.07.2017 | European Synchrotron Radiation Facility

nachricht Thawing permafrost releases old greenhouse gas
19.07.2017 | GFZ GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Helmholtz Centre

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

Leipzig HTP-Forum discusses "hydrothermal processes" as a key technology for a biobased economy

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers create new technique for manipulating polarization of terahertz radiation

20.07.2017 | Information Technology

High-tech sensing illuminates concrete stress testing

20.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

First direct observation and measurement of ultra-fast moving vortices in superconductors

20.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>