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Freshwater Marshes

Freshwater Marshes: Ecology and Wildlife Management

Milton W. Weller
Volume: 1
Copyright Date: 1994
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    Freshwater Marshes
    Book Description:

    In this updated third edition, Weller describes the components of the freshwater marsh-its annual and seasonal dynamics as affected by rainfall cycles and the plant and animal population's response to such changes. Weller discusses how such wetland areas are managed for wildlife populations and diversity, and how such processes can be used in wetland conservation and restoration. He considers the impact society has on wetlands and offers conservation goals for freshwater wetland complexes. Weller broadens the third edition to include an analysis of how prairie wetlands compare in water dynamics with swamps, tidal marshes, and other wetlands. He also expands the discussion of wetland classification, evaluation, mitigation, and restoration, and introduces a new glossary of current wetland terminology.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8574-5
    Subjects: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. CHAPTER 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    Any low area that will hold water over soil, even temporarily, forms a suitable basin for the invasion of water-tolerant, rooted, soft-stemmed plants (hydrophytes) such as grasses, sedges, cattail, and bulrush. This semiaquatic, herbaceous plant community is a marsh, and it forms diverse habitats for many types of animals. The presence of standing water is variable, and even when standing water is not present, organic soils may hold sufficient water to promote germination or to sustain the growth of emergent hydrophytes. In some cases, hydrophytes may be missing for a period of time, but the soils are characteristic of those...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Marsh Basins, Hydrology, and Diversity
    (pp. 5-17)

    Marshes may be formed in any basin that will hold water long enough for the germination and survival of semiaquatic plants. Basins probably hold water poorly when they are new, unless they are created in fine silt or clay that seals easily, but buildup of organic matter helps to fill the many pores. Eventually, basins collect groundwater, rainfall, snowmelt, or floodwater from watershed, river, or lake.

    Wetland basins are landforms created by water movement of rivers or lakes, glaciers or other ice action, tectonic action such as mountain building (Reid 1961), or even soil slippage (Weller 1972). Depending on local...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Marsh Substrate and Vegetation Structure
    (pp. 18-24)

    Marshes, like all plant communities, have certain physical features such as vegetation structure or life form that provide identifying characteristics (Beecher 1942). In addition to water, the main visual clues are the emergent plants of various heights that form the perimeter and sometimes the center of a marsh. These are taller and more robust than most prairie grasses, but neither as tall nor as woody as shrubs and trees. As we examine the marsh structure from shore to center, we find other more aquatic plants, as well as water and basin characteristics that mechanically influence how animals are attracted to...

  8. CHAPTER 4 The Marsh as a System
    (pp. 25-29)

    Because all organisms require food for their survival, growth, and reproduction, many behavioral and physiological activities of plants and animals are devoted to food getting. A study of a marsh community focusing on the food interrelationships of its members will reveal much about the efficiency and the total energy of the system.

    Various organisms in the wetland community fulfill different roles or niches, and the system can function well only when all components are present and effective. Plants fill the role of primary producer, converting water and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates through the energy of sunlight and the action of...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Habitat and Behavior Patterns among Marsh Wildlife
    (pp. 30-34)

    Although we will later review some of the major animals of marshes by taxonomic categories (e.g., insects, birds, mammals), it is important to recognize that the individual species of marsh communities often have evolved together and may form a distinctive and functional entity. Some of the characteristics of the components of the ecosystem were mentioned earlier, but before examining the marsh fauna, we should consider several additional ideas. In most cases, I will use examples of birds, because these are the ones that I know best.

    It is generally assumed that early life had its origin in water and that...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Dominant Animals
    (pp. 35-48)

    A brief review of the dominant animals, concentrating on the more conspicuous wildlife of midwestern marshes, will document the impressive variety found in even a small area. The animals’ use of this unique system dramatizes habitat selection and segregation among closely related species, showing the roles these forms play in the functioning of the ecosystem. We will consider the fauna by taxonomic groups, but without neglecting habitat selection, niches, relationships, and species associations. We will start with the most conspicuous, the birds, and end with the less conspicuous but perhaps most important in the system, the invertebrates.

    Although generalizations are...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Habitat Dynamics
    (pp. 49-68)

    Perhaps the most dramatic form of habitat change, seasonality, is so common that we take it for granted. Seasonal change is especially conspicuous at high latitudes (both far north and far south), with cold being the dominant physical force. But where seasonality of precipitation is great, it can be just as important in habitat change as is cold. Often, the two are interrelated.

    Our studies of tundra wetlands (only part of which can be termed emergent wetlands) documented the extreme case of seasonal variation affecting a habitat, where in the short summer season only about twenty-five species of birds breed...

  12. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  13. CHAPTER 8 Management and Restoration
    (pp. 69-86)

    To manage or not to manage is a controversial issue in resource conservation, stemming from a new public awareness of environmental issues and activities. The opinions are, unfortunately, strongly divided, but the reasons for the philosophical difference seem at times unrelated to the wildlife resource. Rather than review the arguments on either side of this issue, it seems more profitable here to clarify some goals in wetland conservation and then to discuss methods for achieving them.

    In view of the extensive loss of wetlands in North America and around the world, our major emphasis must be to conserve marshes as...

  14. CHAPTER 9 Marshes and People
    (pp. 87-105)

    As people—builders, farmers, and engineers—moved across North America, the marshes and wet-prairie soils stood in the way of tillage, railroad and road construction, and other land uses. Drainage was the answer, and millions of acres of land are now underlain with tile, intersected with ditches, and built over. Estimates of the original wetland acreage in the 1780s range from 211 million to 221 million acres in the contiguous forty-eight states. The original percentage of land in wetlands in the lower forty-eight was 11%, while in Alaska and Hawaii it was 45.3% and 1.4%, respectively. Based on the National...

  15. CHAPTER 10 Marshes for the Future
    (pp. 106-110)

    For such terrestrial creatures, humans are perennial seekers of water. Coasts, rivers, and lakes are rimmed with human dwellings, boat landings, overviews, and bathing or wading areas. If bodies of water are absent, we build them. Much of this search is, of course, for the essential compound of H₂O itself, but there seems also to be an esthetic and visual need for the openness, motion, and reflection of a body of water. In general, the visual clue is essential; just knowing that water is there is not satisfactory. Thus, a marsh has less “water value” for most people than does...

  16. Epilogue
    (pp. 111-112)

    You, the reader, must now face a decision vital to the future of wetlands and their wildlife in North America. I hope that understanding and concern have been enhanced by this reading, and that action is the next step. This action may take many forms. For some, it may be the investment of time or money in private acquisition programs, such as those of the Nature Conservancy, or legal defense programs of the National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, or Environmental Defense Fund. Involvements with the North American Waterfowl Plan through some state or federal agency or through...

  17. APPENDIX A Some Elementary Marsh Study Techniques
    (pp. 113-119)
  18. APPENDIX B Marsh Management Techniques
    (pp. 120-128)
  19. APPENDIX C Scientific Names of Plants and Animals Mentioned in the Text
    (pp. 129-131)
  20. APPENDIX D Glossary of Terms Used in the Text
    (pp. 132-136)
  21. References
    (pp. 137-148)
  22. Index
    (pp. 149-154)
  23. Back Matter
    (pp. 155-155)