The July “Magic of Wetlands” habitat tour was led by George Wooten, Bob Gillespie, and Kathleen Johnson, who together created a window into the special roles and adaptations of wetland plants, insects, and birds, respectively.
During the tour, George Wooten shared information about the unique ways in which plants survive the varied conditions of wetland life. He also pointed out clues for determining the edge of a wetland.
“The single most important thing you need to take home about wetlands is that there isn’t enough oxygen to support most upland species. If you planted them in a wetland, they would die. But these species, cottonwood, cattail… have mechanisms that allow them to get oxygen into the roots and grow. They have special tissues that breathe through hollow tubes, shallow roots that spread out, and they have to be strong… without a lot of mass.”
Bob Gillespie provided identification tips such as how to differentiate between mayfly nymphs (three tails) and stonefly nymphs (two tails), and discussed the effect of woody debris on the structure and function of insect communities, among other relationships between insects and the rest of the wetland ecosystems.
Kathleen Johnson shared many interesting facts about the birds found in highland wetlands, and the physical adaptations and behaviors that help them to survive, with examples of the specialized food sources that can create a niche for a species. Kathleen also discussed the function of wetlands for bird nesting and refuge.