Heterogeneity is a key feature of wetland ecosystems, which vary physically, chemically, and biologically over space and time. Today, longstanding interest in how heterogeneity influences fundamental ecological processes is coupled with concern that anthropogenic changes are reducing the heterogeneity of wetland and other ecosystems. Spatial heterogeneity is apparent in wetlands at landscape, habitat, and micro scales. Variation can be gradual along environmental gradients or abrupt; even relatively small changes in wetlands can exert large influences through interactions with hydrology. Temporal heterogeneity is an important feature of wetlands, from the decadal or longer scales associated with vegetation succession to diurnal variability in water levels. Origins, effects, and applications of heterogeneity to wetland management are discussed, with a focus on the spatial dimension of wetland heterogeneity at the habitat scale.
KeywordsHydrology Landscape Restoration Spatial Temporal Topography
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