Into the wetland (PLE day 2)
Day 2 of wetland ecology at Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology (PLE)
After a pancake breakfast at PLE, we discussed wetland classification schemes and the students participated in the “classification challenge,” where groups competed against each other to provide the most correct and detailed classification of two nearby wetlands (right outside the classroom adjacent to Lake Pymatuning) using the Cowardin et al. classification system. Unfortunately no clear winning group emerged, but the students certainly now understand the difference between persistent and non-persistent emergents!
We then jumped headfirst into wetland hydrology. Water sources, hydroperiods, hydrodynamics, water budgets, evapotranspiration, Darcy’s law…. Once all of our brains were full, we loaded up into the van and headed to Morgan Swamp Preserve in Ohio, where we had lunch, followed by a nice hike to a wetland overlook to observe the effects that beavers can have on wetland hydrology. A beaver dam at the site has recently collapsed, and the area upstream has become much drier and mostly consists of an open mud flat with scattered spatterdock (Nuphar advena) still trying to hang on. I expect it will look quite different by the end of the summer.
We then put on waders (or not) and entered the swamp from another location, where we examined a large 14-year old mitigation wetland, a series of vernal pools, and a large marsh and shrub-swamp. The hike back out of the swamp turned into a bit of an adventure, when the instructor went a mile in the wrong direction led the students to one final wetland before borrowing a student’s smartphone leading the students directly back to the van.
Some student tweets: