The Role of Wetlands in Mitigating Pollutants in Our Landscape and Globe

Bowling Green State University School of Earth, Environment, and Society Seminar Series welcomes William J. Mitsch, Ph.D., who will present, "The Role of Wetlands in Mitigating Pollutants in  Our Landscape and Globe" on March 22 at 4:00 p.m. in room 123 Overman. 

The world is faced with unprecedented threats to our aquatic ecosystems from excessive nutrients caused especially by agricultural and urban runoff. More than 750 aquatic ecosystems suffer from degraded ecosystem services with impairments described as hypoxia, dead zones, and harmful algal blooms, most due to pollution caused by excessive nitrogen and phosphorus. And we have increased the atmospheric pool of carbon by 40% since industrial times leading to several impacts related to climate change.  At the same time, it has also been estimated that, on a global scale, we have lost half of our original wetlands to our current extent of 8 to 12 million km2, with most of that loss in the 20th century.  I am proposing here a sizeable increase in our wetland resources around the world to solve the diminishing wetland problem but with the strategic purpose of mitigating the excess phosphorus, nitrogen, and in a sustainable fashion. Examples include minimizing phosphorus inflows to the Florida Everglades and Lake Erie in the Laurentian Great Lakes and reducing nitrogen fluxes by wetlands and riparian forests in Midwestern USA to reduce seasonal hypoxia in northern Gulf of Mexico.  Finally, wetlands and especially coastal wetlands are being proposed as carbon sinks through carbon sequestration to mitigate human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases. Our current approach for decreasing the nutrient saturation of our landscapes and aquatic ecosystems—defined as wetlaculture—will be introduced.

William J. Mitsch, Ph.D is Eminent Scholar and Director, Everglades Wetland Research Park
Sproul Chair for Southwest Florida Habitat Restoration and Management
Florida Gulf Coast University, Naples, Florida
Professor Emeritus and Founding Director, Olentangy River Wetland Research Park, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio