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Take advantage of your SWS membership by participating in outstanding educational
opportunities without leaving your desk!

SWS is pleased to provide a webinar series on wetland science topics of interest. The convenience and flexibility of SWS webinars enables you to educate one or a large number of employees at once, reduce travel expenses and maintain consistent levels of productivity by eliminating time out of the office.

Webinar registration is complimentary to all SWS members. Certificates of completion, worth one hour of participation, are available upon request; please contact Kara Miller at kmiller@sws.org, if interested.  If you're unable to participate in the live webinar, all webinars will be recorded and archived for complimentary viewing by members on our Past Webinars page. 

Here's what our members are saying...

"Thank you presenters and thank you SWS for hosting this. It is a great SWS membership benefit." - Kurt Kowalski, Ann Arbor, MI

"Excellent coverage of fascinating topics for wetland scientists!" - Ellen Hartig, New York, NY

Upcoming SWS Webinars

Date: September 21, 2017

Time: 1:00 p.m. EDT

Luca Marazzi, Ph.D.
Florida International University

Comparative studies of the variation in primary producer diversity and dominance in (sub)tropical wetlands

Date: October 26, 2017


Matt Kirwan
Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Date: November 16, 2017

Date: December 14, 2017

Time: 1:00 p.m. EST

Paul Keddy, Ph.D.
Independent Scholar

Five Causal Factors: A General Framework for Wetland Science and Restoration 

At one time, lack of information limited our understanding of wetlands, and made restoration difficult. Now it is possible that the opposite is true: we are drowning in data on wetlands, and confused about how to best apply the huge volume of information. People are now, it seems, busily engaged in collecting data that no one will ever use, and writing papers that no one has the time to read. 

How to deal with this situation? We cannot organize our information by species, because there are too many of them (ca. 125,000 species in wetlands according to the IUCN). We cannot organize information by geographical or ecological region, because there are too many of those too (867 ecoregions according to WWF).  Meanwhile, new data streams into journals. What is to be done?

Perhaps we can learn from others. Consider that physicists can describe most of the universe using only four forces! Without succumbing to physics envy, we could borrow from this approach, and consider causal factors as ecological forces that transcend species and geography. Causal forces might provide us with a set of general principles to organize our existing knowledge, and to guide our attempts to restore wetlands.

I will explore how only five causal forces may account for nearly all the variation we see in and among wetlands: hydrology, fertility, natural disturbance, herbivory, and competition. In fact, the list can be shortened to four if we treat herbivory as just another kind of natural disturbance.  These factors operate in all wetlands, be they peat bogs, mangrove swamps or freshwater marshes. The order in which we list them them above matters, since hydrology alone likely accounts for half the variation (ca 50 percent), with fertility and natural disturbance next (ca 15 percent). If we can explain 80 percent of the composition and function of wetlands with just three causal factors, that is actually a rather good situation to be in.

Of course, other factors influence wetlands.  Near the coast, salinity needs to be added to this list. Other factors can include burial, roads, and coarse woody debris.

In this presentation, I will walk you through this approach in more detail. My intention is to illustrate each of the causal factors with two examples: one that illustrates generality (for scientific organization of our ideas) and the other that illustrates application (for immediate use in wetland conservation or restoration.)

Dr. Paul Keddy has been a biologist, writer and scholar for more than forty years. He was a professor of ecology at three different universities, and now is an Independent Scholar, living on the edge of a large wetland, deep within the deciduous forests of Lanark County in southern Canada. He has written over 100 scholarly papers, and even more essays, most of which can be found at his web site www.drpaulkeddy.com.  He achieved international designation as a Highly Cited Researcher, has awards from the Society of Wetland Scientists and the Environmental Law Institute, and, locally, is designated a Champion for Nature. His best-known books include Wetland Ecology, and Plant Ecology, both of which offer a global perspective on general principles in ecology and their applications to conservation. He also co-edited The World’s Largest Wetlands. In his spare time, has written two self-published natural history guides, one for Lanark County (which won the W.E. Saunders award from Ontario Nature), and one for Louisiana. The focus of his career has been upon the general principles that organize ecological communities, with emphasis upon plants and wetlands. His focus on plants was a rational decision -- the inescapable fact that more than 90 percent of the biomass on Earth is comprised of plants. He has a particular soft spot for turtles, frogs and alligators, but says that getting the vegetation right is essential to provide habitat for such species. He thinks that science should be used to solve problems in the real world, and hence has spent many hours advising on wetland conservation in areas including Nova Scotia, the Great Lakes watershed, and coastal Louisiana, with lesser forays including San Francisco Bay and the Everglades. He has served organizations including the National Science Foundation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, World Wildlife Fund, and The Nature Conservancy.  He also puts his money where his mouth is – over 40 years he has slowly bought nearly a square mile of forest and wetland in Lanark County, habitat which has now been donated to the local land trust as a nature sanctuary. He continues to write and lecture.  His latest book is a new edition of Plant Ecology. His lectures have included Washington, Toronto, Madrid, Granada, and Lyon — as well as Perth, Almonte and Lanark Village.

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ASWM Webinars

Interested in viewing more webinars? Visit the Association of State Wetland Managers (ASWM) webinar's page to access free webinars. These webinars focus on various topics, mostly relating to a specific project or work group. To learn more please click here



Knowledge about human culture, and its role alongside wetland science in the Ramsar Convention