from the swamp to the classroom a voyage of discovery
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From The Swamp To The Classroom: A Voyage Of Discovery. Paul Weihe, Central College (IA). Who IS this guy…??. Taught ES annually since 1997 APES Reader/Leader since ‘06 Trained as ecologist (specialty: wetlands) Married; two sons in HS Avid gardener; homebrewer

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Presentation Transcript
who is this guy
Who IS this guy…??
  • Taught ES annually since 1997
  • APES Reader/Leader since ‘06
  • Trained as ecologist (specialty: wetlands)
  • Married; two sons in HS
  • Avid gardener; homebrewer
  • Recent interest: Ethnobotany
  • Some background on wetland science
  • Recent additions to our ES resources
  • Sharing & brainstorming
  • Think of this as a conversation starter…
  • Note: this Powerpoint and other materials are available for later review.
  • Disclaimer…my role here…
  • The only ecosystem type protected by Federal law…(court interpretation of Clean Water Act’s “Waters of the U.S.”)
  • “Protection” does allow for wetland disturbance/removal with a permit [QUESTION: which Agency in charge…?]
what is a wetland
What IS a wetland…?
  • Definition: it is an ecotone---an ecosystem with characteristics intermediate between two types (i.e., terrestrial & aquatic)
  • Delineation tells one where to draw the perimeter line; use the Federal Manual with three “indicators” (water, plants, soil)
  • Classification for inventory, assessment…
dredge fill permit
Dredge & Fill Permit
  • Army Corps of Engineers will issue permits if necessary
  • What’s a good reason?
agency may require mitigation
Agency may require “mitigation”
  • Typically, need to replace lost wetland
  • Restore or build a new wetland
can we really build wetlands
Can we really build wetlands?
  • YES. Lots of examples of successful wetland restoration & creation…some are even accidental!

this is the wrong


do we really build wetlands
DO we really build wetlands?
  • National goal has been “No Net Loss”
  • We are failing.
  • Iowa study (Vandewalle et al 2008): 58% of State highway projects were successful…as measured by permit requirements.
  • Difficult to get a national perspective, but this is probably indicative of overall trend
purple loosestrife lythrum salicaria
Purple Loosestrife(Lythrum salicaria)
  • Beautiful flowering perennial of wetlands
  • Introduced from Eurasia
  • Spread throughout northern U.S., Canada
  • Reduces cover/biomass/frequency of native plant species
  • Is less-used by animals for food & cover, than are native plants
and it also may may not
AND, it also may/may not…
  • Cause local populations of native animals/plants to decline
  • Reduce overall biodiversity
  • Affect hydrology, sedimentation, carbon storage, nutrient dynamics in soil/water
  • Be significantly reduced by introduced biocontrol agents (insects form Europe)
my current research
My current research…
  • What is “The Smoking Gun?”
  • Looking for the ecological effects (impacts??) of the plant on ecosystems
  • Last Fall, did a small experiment with my students: how does nitrate level in water compare in test tubes with Loosestrife vs. tubes with cattail? (=about the same)
the big questions
The Big Questions
  • How do we describe wetland function in a landscape context (reference systems)
  • To what extent, and in which ways, can we solve water quality issues using wetlands?
  • What is the interaction between wetland systems and Global Climate Change?
wetlands climate change
Wetlands & Climate Change:
  • Walter et al 2006: Methane bubbling from Siberian thaw lakes as a positive feedback to climate warming --
  • Schuur et al 2008: Vulnerability of Permafrost Carbon to Climate Change: Implications for the Global Carbon Cycle --
  • Shakhova et al 2010: Extensive Methane Venting to the Atmosphere from Sediments of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf --
  • Discussion?
  • Questions…?
confession pedagogy gives me a headache
Confession: Pedagogy gives me a headache

but we care about learning
BUT…we care about learning…
  • Great interest in recent years in effective use of technology: distance learning, flipped classrooms, etc.
  • Ongoing research --how students learn
  • Our students are changing?? (experiences, attitudes, goals…)
resources you may know
Resources you may know…
  • We have an EDG listserv & other good stuff at AP Central (, Environmental Literacy Council(,GOAPES wiki (
  • Coming soon: APCommunity (@CB)
  • New books…see table…
also interesting reads
Also: interesting reads..
  • AAAS report: Vision & Change (
  • Book by Ken Bain: What the Best College Teachers Do (free summary pdf):
bioscience education network
Bioscience Education Network
  • BEN is an Internet portal to (mostly free) resources to teach ES (not just Biology!)
  • Searches through on-line libraries of various professional societies
  • Categorizes resources; metadata
  • Peer-reviewed (before and/or after)
  • YOU pick the data
  • IT makes the graph
  • In development…coming soon!
  • Sponsored by Cornell U. (Ornithology lab)
  • Generates “data visualizations” (graphs/charts/statsistics) on the fly
  • LARGE data sets to be included
  • When operational, will include lessons
  • For all you’ve taught me about ES & teaching/learning
  • For making the Readings fun 
now your turn share
Now, YOUR TURN…share…
  • A cool/fun/stimulating idea/activity you have for teaching APES?
  • What isThe Next Big Thing? What should we (“somebody”) work on/develop?
  • Technology?
  • $$$ for…?
  • Other ideas?
  • Please visit the “stations”