Aspects of climate change and its associated impacts on wetland ecosystem functions - A review
Hayal Desta1, Brook Lemma1, Aramde Fetene2
1. Chair of Ecosystem Planning and Management, EiABC, Addis Ababa University, P. O. Box 518, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; 2. Department of Natural Resources and Management, Debre Markos University, P. O. Box 269, Debre Markos, Ethiopia. firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: Wetlands are one of the richest ecosystems on the earth and have enormous environmental and socioeconomic benefits to humanity. Scientific evidence is growing on the occurrence of human-induced climate change. Wetlands are among the ecosystems most vulnerable to anthropogenic activities being aggravated by climate change. This change in climate has the potential to alter water temperature, flow, runoff rate and timing, and the physical characteristics of the wetlands. Such disturbances vary in strength, frequency, predictability, duration, and spatial scale, and can disrupt ecological processes. These changes will have effects on the functioning of wetlands and then lead to changes in the critical goods and services of wetlands upon which human societies depend on. Wetlands are rich with many species of amphibians, small mammals, fishes, birds and aquatic plants. The value of wetlands as a habitat for these species depends on the size of the wetlands, diversity of vegetation, water quality, and soil conditions. However, these factors are under the major threats of climate change. The most pronounced effects on wetlands will be altered hydrological regimes and more frequent or intense extreme weather events. Wetlands in the tropics rely on direct precipitation and are most likely to be affected by climate change. A future hotter and drier climate may reduce wetlands in size, and convert some wetlands to dry land leading to a significant loss and degradation of the resources and associated biodiversity. The present paper reviews the current state of knowledge of the impacts of climate change on wetlands. It also assesses the types, and functions of wetlands which are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The paper also suggests as a conclusion the importance of integrating strategies that help wetland ecosystems accommodate changes adaptively and mitigation actions that reduce anthropogenic influences on climate into the overall wetland management plans.
[Hayal D, Brook L, Aramde F. Aspects of climate change and its associated impacts on wetland ecosystem functions - A review. J Am Sci 2012;8(10):582-596]. (ISSN: 1545-1003).http://www.jofamericanscience.org. 81
Keywords: wetlands; climate change; climate change impacts, biota Full Text 81