The function of wetland ecosystems is not independent of the landscape in which they are embedded. They have strong physical and biotic linkages to the surrounding landscape. Therefore, incorporating a broad-scale perspective in our study of wetland ecology will promote our understanding of these habitats in the Southern Appalachians. Changes in the surrounding landscape will likely affect wetlands. Broad-scale changes that are likely to affect wetlands include: 1) climate change, 2) land use and land cover change, 3) water and air-borne pollution, 4) a shift in disturbance/recovery regimes, and 5) habitat loss and fragmentation. Changes in climate and land cover can affect the hydrology of the landscape and, therefore, the water balance of wetlands. Excessive nutrients and toxin transported by air and water to wetlands can disrupt natural patterns of nutrient cycling. Periodic disturbances, like flooding in riparian zones, is required to maintain some wetlands. A change in disturbance regimes, such as an increase in fire frequency, could alter species composition and nutrient cycles in certain wetlands. Many plant and animal species that found in small, isolated wetlands have populations that are dependent on complementary habitats found in the surrounding landscape. Loss or fragmentation of these complementary habitats could result in the collapse of wetland populations.
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- Landscape-Level Processes and Wetland Conservation in the Southern Appalachian Mountains
Scott M. Pearson
- Springer Netherlands