Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2007


Published in GREAT PLAINS RESEARCH 17:1 (Spring 2007). Copyright © 2007 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


Wetland ecology is a relatively new field that developed from an initial interest in a few direct benefits that wetlands provide to society. Consequently, much early scientific work was stimulated by economic returns from specific wetland services, such as production of peat and provision of habitat for economically valuable wildlife (e.g., waterfowl and furbearers). Over time, societal interest in wetlands broadened, and these unique habitats are now valued for many additional services, including some that bear non market value. Common examples include carbon sequestration, flood reduction, water purification, and aesthetics. The increased recognition of the importance of wetlands has generated a diversity of job opportunities in wetland ecology and management. Despite the increased knowledge base and enhanced job market, I am not aware of any institutions that offer specialty degrees in this new discipline. Indeed, relatively few institutions offer specific wetland ecology classes, with Arnold G. van der Valk and a few of his peers at other universities being notable exceptions.