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Wading Right In

Wading Right In: Discovering the Nature of Wetlands

Catherine Owen Koning and Sharon M. Ashworth, Illustrated by Catherine Owen Koning
University of Chicago Press
2019
264 pp.
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Too often, wetland ecosystems are viewed as an unproductive obstacle to useful human projects, and they have accordingly suffered—like so many other natural ecosystems—the depredations of development. Recognizing that the general public may “lag in their appreciation” of wetlands, Catherine Koning and Sharon Ashworth have set out on a mission to generate a wider interest in these fascinating and beautiful ecosystems, with a blend of science, natural history, and the personal stories of ecologists, wetland managers, conservationists, and more.

Their focus is mainly the wetlands of the northeast United States—the plants and creatures that inhabit them and the people whose lives are enhanced by them. The book’s chapters are organized by wetland type—saltmarsh, forest wetlands, swamps, vernal pools, etc.—with final chapters on wetland restoration and on the connections between people and wetlands, both at the personal and community level. The book has a bibliography and plenty of further reading for readers wanting to dive in more deeply.

The importance of wetlands cannot be overstated. They play a vital carbon sequestration role in a changing climate. Coastal wetlands are also a protective bulwark between ocean and dry land and provide a haven for a huge range of resident and migratory wildlife. The authors’ efforts to highlight these benefits and to inspire a love of—or at least a tolerance for—mud, wind, and damp, flat horizons make this book an excellent and engaging introduction to these ever-changing ecosystems.

About the author

The reviewer is a senior editorial fellow at Science.