Wetlands (Exploring Environmental Challenges: A Multidisciplinary Approach)

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Odum Center for Wetlands provides sound scientific knowledge about wetlands that will lead to a better understanding of their role in a sustainable partnership of humanity and nature. The Center works toward this goal by conducting, facilitating and coordinating interdisciplinary research and teaching on wetland-related resource management issues. Odum Center for Wetlands. Research in the Watershed Ecology Lab focuses on linkages between ecosystems and the hydrologic cycle, with the goal of advancing natural resources conservation and management.

Field experiments inspired by observations of natural systems form the core of The Angelini Lab's research approach. As community ecologist, Christine Angelini studies how interactions among species, commonly habitat-forming foundation species, drive patterns in the organization of biological communities, and how different types of interactions, such as those involving mutualists and top predators, enhance or reduce an ecosystem's resilience to climate change.

In addition to manipulating species interactions or physical factors of interest with experiments, research methodology includes correlational approaches, spatial models, and biogeochemical analyses when necessary to contextualize research findings, elucidate how ecosystem dynamics may change over time, and tease apart the mechanisms that drive natural patterns. The Angelini Lab group collaborates with a diverse and talented crew of ecologists, hydrologists, soil biogeochemists, and engineers at the University of Florida and several other US and international institutions.

The H. Odum Center for Wetlands and Center for Environmental Policy have been generating publications related to environmental issues since their inception. Digitization of these publications began in the summer of as a cooperative project with the Digital Library Center, University of Florida Libraries, creating the Howard T. Odum Center for Wetlands Publications. Publications include research reports, articles, book chapters, dissertations and theses, and are freely available to anyone.

This is an ongoing project and only those publications without copyright restriction will be included.

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Created in , The Wetlands Club at the University of Florida is an official UF student organization under the Benton Engineering Council and is open to all students and staff regardless of major. The Wetlands Club hosts a variety of field trips, social events, public service projects and research opportunities. February 2nd each year is World Wetlands Day.

This day marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February , in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

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Each year since , the Ramsar Secretariat has provided materials to help raise public awareness about the importance and value of wetlands. See more at: www. On March 8th, , Dr.


Kaplan's Watershed Ecology Lab implemented the first of four proposed dye tracer experiments in Silver River, one of Florida's largest springs. Johns River Water Management District SJRWMD to answer one of Florida's most pressing environmental challenges: why are Florida's springs changing from systems dominated by clear water and submerged aquatic vegetation to being dominated by algae--and what can be done to reverse the process? In all, ten UF researchers across four departments are engaged in different components of the three-year project.

Calibrate model s for specific landscapes, using the results from the empirical landscape analyses as well as from other WRP projects, and conduct model simulations to evaluate management options.


Develop low-cost landscape assessment methods such as the Synoptic Approach, Landscape Development Index, and landscape criteria that can be readily applied to provide technical support for wetland protection and management in other areas. The Landscape Function Project will rely primarily on information obtained by compiling and analyzing existing data bases, maps, and other available data sources. The overall project strategy is illustrated in Figure 5. The specific studies to be implemented by the Landscape Function Project are 1 a landscape assessment of prairie potholes; 2 a landscape assessment of bottomland hardwood forests; and 3 an evaluation of the influence of inland wetlands on estuarine water quality.

The Risk Reduction Project will conduct no new field work or landscape analyses, but will work directly with the Wetland Function, Characterization and Restoration, and Landscape Function Projects, as well as EMAP-Wetlands, to ensure that these projects provide the types of methods, data, and analyses needed as input to a risk reduction analysis Figure 6. Further work is needed to evaluate, refine, and demonstrate the risk-based framework. Therefore, the following five tasks will be completed in sequence: 1. Review and evaluate the conceptual framework described above , modifying and augmenting it as necessary.

Flow chart for the research strategy for the Landscape Function Project. The graphic at the bottom of the figure is used to represent the Synoptic Approach and other low-cost landscape assessment methods. Matrix indicating the major sources of information to be used for each risk assessment component by the Risk Reduction Project.

The hypothetical graphics represent the general types of analyses and outputs expected from the other three WRP projects. Conduct a BPJ risk assessment, to further evaluate and refine the basic framework, demonstrate the utility of the approach, and provide interim project deliverables.

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Synthesize the WRP research results into a comprehensive, hierarchical risk assessment for selected regions and Issues. Apply the risk assessment to provide technical support for risk management. Develop a monitoring and evaluation protocol. Consistent with the WRP research priorities and studies proposed by other WRP projects, the Risk Reduction Project will focus on two wetland types: 1 prairie potholes and 2 bottomland hardwood forests. The utility of the risk-based framework will be demonstrated by addressing two major issues: 1 the national policy of no net wetland loss and 2 the role of wetlands in reducing nonpoint source pollution.

WRP results are also presented in scientific journals, workshops, and symposia, and summarized in the "Wetlands Research Update," published at least once per year and distributed widely to all interested parties. I feel the plan is at the forefront of where the Agency is headed with risk-based research efforts, and I commend your continued leadership role in pioneering wetlands research.

The shifts in emphasis within the current projects and the continuing efforts toward integration are timely and will result in a stronger program.

I appreciate the opportunities you have provided our Division to influence the directions of the plan. We look forward to continued participation in the implementation of the plan's projects. We also recognize that there are specific projects within the plan that require input from other offices in the Office of Water. Specifically, we look forward to working jointly with the Wetlands Research Program and the Health and Ecological Criteria Division of the Office of Science and Technology to plan the work related to the development of biological criteria for wetlands.

I trust over the next five years our offices will continue this level of cooperation. Please count us among your strong supporters. The purpose of this research is to address the technical needs that have been identified by the EPA programs within the Office of Water1 and the EPA Regions having legal authority over wetlands.

This research plan is intended, therefore, for two main audiences: the EPA program offices and the wetlands research community. The objectives of the document are to describe the WRP research strategy so that 1 the program offices can evaluate whether their priorities are being met and 2 the wetlands research community can determine whether the proposed research is scientifically sound. Because this is a strategic planning document, specific studies are not described at the level of detail required for actual implementation.

Detailed research plans will be prepared and peer reviewed before studies are initiated. This section presents 1 a brief background on wetlands and the WRP, 2 the priority issues and technical needs identified by the EPA program offices, 3 the priority wetland types for research, and 4 a description of the document format. Fish and Wildlife Service During the last years, more than half of all wetlands have been lost in the United States due to human activities, primarily the conversion of wetlands for agricultural uses.

Wetlands are included in the definition of the Nation's waters. Thus, the CWA is the primary legislative basis for federal wetland protection. All five projects are described in Appendix A. Shite in research emphasis proposed for FY reflect changes in Agency priorities, emerging environmental issues and research needs, advancements in wetland science, and an expansion of the WRP mandate to provide technical support for administration of other aspects of the CWA that relate to wetlands.

It is important to note that the WRP is an applied research program.

The research conducted must be scientifically sound and represent a significant contribution to wetland science. At the same time, however, it must serve directly the needs and priorities of the EPA program offices. EPA A follow-up study by EPA's Science Advisory Board SAB suggested ways in which the EPA could reduce environmental risk, recommending that environmental protection efforts be focused on areas in which the greatest risk reduction could be achieved.

In particular, the SAB recommended that " EPA should improve the data and analytical methodologies that support the assessment, comparison, and reduction of different environmental risks" SAB , p. The President's budget for the first time recommended that funding of programs be reoriented toward the reduction of the greatest environmental risks Inside EPA, February 9, Wetland management must be considered within a risk-based framework to ensure that the most valued wetland functions are protected. Thus, the EPA Administrator has asked for studies " This goal has been endorsed by both the President and the EPA.

Such an approach advocates comprehensive resource management instead of regulation on an issue-by-issue basis. Technical information will be needed for no net loss to be achieved. The concept implies that the loss of wetlands must be reciprocated by replacement of wetlands with equivalent area and function. However, as pointed out by the National Wetlands Policy Forum, " The development of strategies to achieve no net loss will require, therefore, research to support the evaluation of wetland function, characterization and prioritization of wetlands by function, performance criteria for wetland restoration and creation, and the development of regional assessment methodologies.

Research into this process is not critical, because the cause is understood and regulations have been enacted to limit further loss, e. Less well understood,are the ways in which environmental stressors2 degrade wetland function. Five important categories of stressors are 1 hydrologic modification, 2 physical alteration, 3 sedimentation, 4 nutrient loading, and 5 toxic contaminants. Subtle changes in the hydrologic regime of a site, therefore, can have profound consequences. Examples of hydroiogic modification range from extensive flooding or major water withdrawals and diversions to changes in local runoff patterns as a result of construction and increases in impermeable surfaces in the watershed.

These alterations can result in outright wetland loss or varying degrees of degradation. Because the effects of small hydrologic changes, and the cumulative effects that result from the many such changes that occur, are seldom assessed, hydrologic modifications may represent the largest unquantified and least understood stressor that affects wetlands.

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As with hydrologic modifications, these actions can result in the degradation of wetland function as well as the direct loss of wetland area. The fragmentation of wetland habitat is of particular concern. Both the amount of habitat and its placement on the landscape can have a profound influence on biodiversity and the suitability of the landscape to support various wildlife species.

As an example, Gosselink et al. Black bears require large, contiguous forested areas to sustain viable populations. Likewise, the distance between wetlands is believed to be an important factor limiting waterfowl success in the prairie pothole region of the central United States and Canada. For coastal wetlands, sediment accretion may be critical to 2 We use the term "stressor" to refer to any material or process caused by people that can stress a wetland and thus degrade wetland function s.

This includes the addition of harmful agents, such as pollutants, and the removal of beneficial factors e.

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