This talk was presented by Dr. Paul Keddy to open the annual meeting of the Society of Wetland Scientists in Denver, Colorado, 30 May 2018.
Dr. Keddy begins by reviewing the status of wetland ecology, and progress that has been made in understanding wetlands over the past 50 years. He then considers some new challenges: (1) the volume of new material being published, (2) the tendency to forget foundational studies, (3) the risks posed by overspecialization, and the (4) difficulty of giving clear and consistent advice to the rest of society.
One potential solution to these challenges is to focus upon a small number of causal factors that create and control wetlands. Such causal factors determine the species composition of wetlands, and modify ecological services such as primary productivity. The three main causal factors in wetlands are (1) hydrology, (2) fertility and (3) natural disturbance. Dr. Keddy explains the significance of each factor and gives some classic examples. He also describes how humans are modifying these factors, and some likely consequences for the future of wetlands.
In closing, Dr. Keddy briefly mentions how other factors such as succession, salinity and road networks are superimposed upon the three main causal factors. A short question and answer period follows.