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What Goes Around Comes Around: How Long-Term Weather Patterns Affect Plants in Carolina Bay Wetlands

This article is from Issue Ecosystem Services - Vol. 12 No. 1.

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This article looks at how long-term weather patterns affect Carolina Bay Wetlands.

Welcome to the Ecosystem Services edition!

Note to Educators

Ecosystem Services Lesson Plan


Word Search

Reflection Section Answer Guide

Education Standards Correlations


Additional Resources for this Article:
Meet the scientists that contributed to this article:

"Science Topics" covered in this article:
  • Life Science
  • People and Science

"Thinking About Science Themes" covered in this article:
When scientists want to solve a problem, they collect information to understand the problem. To understand the information, scientists sometimes use a technique called classification. Classification helps scientists group and categorize many things into simpler groups. This technique can create groups that can be compared to each other. For example, if someone gave you a bag of coins, would it be easier to count the coins one by one? Or would it be easier to put the pennies with each other, the quarters with each other, and so on? It is much easier to count the money by classifying it rather than counting the coins one by one. In this study, scientists classified vegetation in and around wetlands. The scientists classified the plants into three groups: aquatic plants, marsh plants, and woody plants. Aquatic plants include plants like water lilies that are found growing in water. Marsh plants, like grasses, can grow in shallow areas between deeper water and dry areas. Woody plants, like trees and shrubs, are plants that live in dry areas outside wetlands. This type of classification helps scientists to simplify and compare the data they collected in the study area.
Specific "Thinking About Science" Themes:
  • Characteristics of Scientists
  • The Scientific Process

"Thinking About Environmental Themes" covered in this article:
Why should we care about freshwater wetlands? Freshwater wetlands play an important role in an ecosystem by providing ecosystem services throughout the world (figure 1). Freshwater wetlands help clean the water by removing pollution. They act like a storage unit when floods occur. Water is held in the wetland rather than flooding people’s homes and cities. These wetlands are also homes and breeding areas for many different types of wildlife – For example, ducks, frogs, salamanders, beavers, fish, alligators, and many more. Freshwater wetlands depend on rainfall to stay wet. When a drought occurs, the water levels drop. Sometimes the wetland dries up all the way. If there is not enough water in the wetland, then this can change how the wetland does its job in the ecosystem. The scientists in this study were interested in how different amounts of rainfall affect wetlands.
Specific "Thinking About the Environment" Themes:
  • Ecosystems
  • Value of natural environments
  • Water

NSE Standards covered in this article:
  • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry (A)
  • Diversity and adaptations of organisms (C)
  • Nature of science (G)
  • Populations and ecosystems (C)
  • Risks and benefits (F)
  • Science as a human endeavor (G)
  • Understandings about science and technology (E)
  • Understandings about scientific inquiry (A)