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Where can you find mosses that change landscapes, salamanders with algae in their skin, and carnivorous plants containing whole ecosystems in their furled leaves? Where can you find swamp-trompers, wildlife watchers, marsh managers, and mud-mad scientists? In wetlands, those complex habitats that play such vital ecological roles.
In Wading Right in, Catherine Owen Koning and Sharon M. Ashworth take us on a journey into wetlands through stories from the people who wade in the muck. Traveling alongside scientists, explorers, and kids with waders and nets, the authors uncover the inextricably entwined relationships between the water flows, natural chemistry, soils, flora, and fauna of our floodplain forests, fens, bogs, marshes, and mires. Tales of mighty efforts to protect rare orchids, restore salt marshes, and preserve sedge meadows become portals through which we visit major wetland types and discover their secrets, while also learning critical ecological lessons.
The United States still loses wetlands at a rate of 13,800 acres per year. Such loss diminishes the water quality of our rivers and lakes, depletes our capacity for flood control, reduces our ability to mitigate climate change, and further impoverishes our biodiversity. Koning and Ashworth's stories captivate the imagination and inspire the emotional and intellectual connections we need to commit to protecting these magical and mysterious places.
Introduction: Sun Turtles and Superstorms
1 At the Water’s Edge: From the Aquatic Zone to the Emergent Marsh
2 Wet Meadows: Not Too Dry, Not Too Wet
3 Pond-Meadow-Forest, Repeat: The Beaver’s Tale
4 Stuck in the Muck: Bogs and Fens
5 Wooded Wetlands: Basin Castles and Big-River Swamps
6 Vernal Pools: Believing in Wetlands That Aren’t Always There
7 Salt Marshes: A Disappearing Act
8 Wetland Restoration: Changing Techniques, Changing Goals, Changing Climate
9 Beauty, Ethics, and Inspiration
Catherine Owen Koning is professor of environmental science and chair of the Division of Natural Sciences at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, NH. She has conducted research in wetland ecology, hydrology, and plant ecology in Maine, New Hampshire, California, and Wisconsin.
Sharon M. Ashworth is an ecologist and writer based in Lawrence, Kansas. After years working in academia and for nonprofits, she now manages an Extension Master Gardener Program for Kansas State University Research and Extension.
"[a] wonderfully engaging study"
– Barbara Kiser, Nature 571(7766), July 2019
"Wading Right In is your personal guide to some of the most astounding, essential, fun, and endangered places in the world – areas you can probably find not far from your own backyard, but perhaps never appreciated or understood. Thanks to Koning and Ashworth's engaging stories, vivid descriptions, and professional expertise, my eyes opened anew to the wonder and power of wetlands. This book is not only a joy to read, but a clarion call to protect these vital areas. Wading Right In belongs in the hands of not only every naturalist and outdoorsperson, but every responsible citizen."
– Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus
"Wading Right In explores the wondrous nature of wetlands through the rich and personal stories of scores of wetland scientists. Written for a lay reader, Koning and Ashworth's engaging prose is packed with information regarding the incredible diversity and amazing adaptations of wetland species. Anyone who reads this book will be compelled to wade into a nearby wetland to see it with new eyes."
– Tom Wessels, author of Reading the Forested Landscape
"What Koning and Ashworth have done is create a book that not only combines stories, but brings in science, law, history, and the future. What a wonderfully fun and educational book. From looking for the eggs of a butterfly under the leaves of sedges in wet meadows to rounding a corner and finding whooping cranes in marshes, to viewing old growth wooded swamps in New Hampshire, this book really achieves its goal: getting the public to see the wonders of wetlands as if they were actually in the field."
– Ingeborg E. Hegemann, professional wetland scientist, senior vice president of the BCS Group, Worcester, Massachusetts