Enjoy Field Naturalists’ Wet and Wild!
Dr. Paul Keddy is a professor of ecology and author of Earth, Water, Fire: An Ecological Profile of Lanark County. The link above takes you to Dr.Paul Keddy’s website and there you can find a link for a recording made of his Wet and Wild natural history lecture presented to MVFN on February 22, 2013 in Almonte, as part of the 2013-2014 public lecture series, Knowing and Caring Connect Us to Nature.
The talk introduces us to one of the world’s largest wetlands, wetlands that perch on hillsides, wetlands that burn, and of course, wetlands that flood. Wetlands are one of the most productive habitats on Earth, and they support many kinds of life.
Many wetland species, such as the ones in the photos above, are dependent upon annual flood pulses: (a) white ibis (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), (b) Mississippi gopher frog (M. Redmer), (c) dragonfly (C. Rubec), (d) tambaqui (M. Goulding), (e) furbish lousewort (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), and (f ) Plymouth gentian (Paul Keddy).
All life contains water. From distant space, Earth appears as a mosaic of blue and green, blue for water, green for plants. The talk is about the connections between green and blue—wetlands. The surrounding uplands interact with the low wetlands. For example, amphibians, such as tree frogs, over-winter in the forest, while nutrients and runoff from the forest enter the wetland.
Wetlands have always influenced us. Early civilizations first arose along the edges of rivers in the fertile soils of floodplains. Wetlands continue to produce many benefits for humans—along with fertile soils for agriculture, they provide food including fish and waterbirds. Additionally, wetlands have other vital roles that are less obvious. They produce oxygen, store carbon, and process nitrogen. Of course, wetlands have also been a cause of human suffering, such as providing habitat for mosquitoes that carry malaria. And, for thousands of years, human cities in low areas have flooded during periods of high water. Philosophers and theologians may enquire how it is that one system can be both life-giving and death-dealing.