Posts Tagged ‘Ecological benchmarking’

The Tolstoy effect

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

In Anna Karenina, Tolstoy reminds us that “happy families are all alike” while “every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”.

Emilie Stander and Joan Ehrenfeld concluded that the same was true for wetlands. They studied the functioning of wetlands used as (supposedly “pristine”) reference wetlands for wetland mitigation in New Jersey (USA) and found that in this heavily urbanized setting, even reference wetlands were “unhappy”… (pdf here)

This raises issues for using typologies of wetlands in the assessment of wetland states (as in the context of wetland mitigation in the USA).

Identifying reference wetlands on the basis of standard structural indicators is misleading when wetlands are in heavily modified landscapes and watersheds. They suggest that instead, multi-year data on functioning should be used to create appropriate typologies of wetland functioning.

A further step would be to use “theoretical” references for assessing wetland state but this would most likely make in-the-field assessment more difficult.