Marsh, swamp, bog, fen, peatland, mire, shallow pond, billabong, and prairie? (PLE Day 1)
“A wetland is an ecosystem that arises when inundation by water produces soils dominated by anaerobic processes and forces the biota, particularly rooted plants, to exhibit adaptations to tolerate flooding.” (Keddy, 2010)
Nine students hailing from five Pennsylvania schools – Clarion University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh, Slippery Rock University, and Lehigh University – all began a journey today to become “wetlanders.” The course is a three-week, field-intensive investigation of wetland ecology offered at the University of Pittsburgh’s Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology (PLE), located on the shore of Pymatuning Reservoir in western Pennsylvania. In this course, we cover the content of a semester-long course in fifteen days… which represents about a week’s worth of material each day. The students (and instructor) are physically and mentally immersed in these unique and valuable ecosystems for the duration of the course. Strap on your waders and prepare to get wet!
This morning we began by visiting some local wetlands and adjacent uplands, and discussing the defining characteristics of wetlands. We compared soil and vegetation along a wetland-upland gradient, observed and discussed gas bubbles rising from wetland soils, and talked about anaerobic conditions and how rooted plants deal with the challenges of these environments. We then stopped for lunch at the (in)famous Linesville spillway, and observed the continual influx of phosphorus into the lake (in the form of hand-tossed stale bread). We spent the afternoon discussing wetland definitions, the various names used for wetlands (e.g., marshes, swamps, peatlands) including some particularly strange/confusing ones (e.g., reed swamp, prairie, billabong), and wetland ecosystem services. The students then gained some familiarity with the FWS wetland mapper in preparation for tomorrow’s discussion of wetland classification systems. I’m looking forward to visiting Morgan Swamp preserve tomorrow! A few student tweets from the first day:
Posted on June 3, 2014, in Teaching, Wetland Ecology & Management (PLE) and tagged Ecology, Ecosystems, Marsh, Microbes, Peatlands, Plants, Science, Swamp, Wetlands. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.