Concurrent Session: Wetlands in a changing climate I
9:30 AM - 10:30 AM Thu
Title: Wetland restoration within the chaos of our shifting world: 2010-2022
Abstract: In 2010 I gave a talk at "Riveredge Speaks Out" at Mequon Nature Center entitled "Wetland Restoration Within the Chaos of Our Shifting World". My subtitle was: "Mid-winter musings...in which I take off my rose-colored glasses." In that talk, I mused that restoration based on pre-settlement vegetation maps and Curtis's groundbreaking 1959 "Vegetation of Wisconsin" was problematic as climate change projections show a radically different climate. In fact, 12 years later we are witnessing this altered climate; it is no longer an abstraction. I will revisit and update my 2010 questions and solutions. I will use examples from the North Branch of the Pike River wetlands, prairie, and stream to highlight successes, failures, and ongoing questions. In 2010, I stated these goals: "protect current wetland biodiversity and explore what adaptive management looked like in changing climate," and I asked these questions: "Do we introduce southern species, or do we witness species shifts? How can we avoid further stressors to wetlands? If urban and agricultural wetlands are stressed by invasives and high nutrient loads, are there functions in the changing climate that should be valued more than our present lens (that focuses almost exclusively on vegetative diversity)?" In 2010, I was not thinking about carbon sequestration, storage, and losses. In 2022, we are developing a more sophisticated understanding of climate mitigation and climate adaptation. We know that maintaining existing biodiversity and fostering resilience in wetland restoration sites requires ongoing work. While we work towards climate adaptation of our wetland restoration sites, we need to also focus on wetland carbon stocks, wetland protection, and our societal carbon footprint.
Alice Thompson is a wetland ecologist with a master's degree from UW-Milwaukee. Ms. Thompson is a senior professional wetland scientist and an assured professional wetland delineator as determined by WDNR since 2006. She is senior scientist and owner of Thompson and Associates Wetland Services, LLC, founded in 1998. She consults on wetland projects throughout the upper Midwest.