Wetlands have vegetation of aquatic plants, adapted to the unique hydric soil. They also benefit the environment in a number of ways, mainly through water purification, flood control, carbon sink and shoreline stability.
While many wetlands are being destroyed, others are being created in “weird” ways.
According to two studies presented last week at the North American Congress for Conservation Biology, the new wetlands aren’t necessarily as good as what they’re replacing, but they are establishing new habitats for birds that might otherwise disappear.
Lead author of one of the two studies, and P.H.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley,Nathan Van Schmidt conducted the study in the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, where he found, along with his colleagues, that irrigation has produced more than 1,660 acres of wetlands.

Van Schmidt and fellow researcher Steven Beissinger, also from U.C. Berkeley, found that about two-thirds of the wetlands helping black rails to survive in the Sierra Nevada foothills are entirely spawned by irrigation.

Meanwhile, many of the natural wetlands in the region are bolstered by irrigation waters, which help to keep them wet even in the dry months of summer.


“It seems to be supporting the birds by giving them persistent water year-round,” Van Schmidt said.


Van Schmidt said the wetlands’ very existence “is a nice counterpart of the general pattern of wetlands loss.” They may not completely fill the gap, but they’re better than nothing.

What matters to us is that the birds are happier, with new wetlands around 🙂



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