Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. When thinking of wetlands, it's important not to forget the land; it is wet land that we're talking about. Many creatures live in open water but the greater abundance of life is found at that fragile fringe: the interface of land and water. At the edge, creatures take advantage of the food and shelter provided by either or both the dry land and the water. If the shoreline hosts a natural diversity of plants, that structural diversity will result in an abundance of animal life. Developers often want to replace natural wetlands with man-made lakes and manicured shorelines, but these are often poor substitutes for natural wetlands. A lake may be wet, but it doesn't function as a wetland. Water evaporates more quickly from a pond surface exposed to the wind and sun. In a wetland covered with natural vegetation, water collects beneath plants; much is held by shaded soil and both the aquifer and the ecosystem are enriched. From a diversity standpoint, an open lake lacks the hiding places, the nest sites, and the food resources provided by a natural wetland.
'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.