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How The Climate And Human Activity Can Change Wetlands

Saugatuck Dunes State Park along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Photo by John Haberstroh, from Wikimedia Commons
John Haberstroh
/
Wikimedia Commons

Western Michigan University Professor Tiffany Schriever and a team of students spend part of their time from spring to fall in the coastal wetlands near Lake Michigan. The Professor of Biological Sciences says they look in the places between dunes along the eastern shoreline of Lake Michigan. “That’s about four degrees of latitude and over 500 miles." Schriever says that leads to large variations in the species they find.

Schriever will be among the presenters at Western Michigan University’s Spring Convocation on Tuesday, March 26th, at the Fetzer Center. She says her interest in researching the biodiversity of ecosystems started as an undergraduate student near the Mississippi River in Minnesota. Schiever says when she moved to Michigan she needed a new system to study. Schriever says most of the research on coastal wetlands focuses on those directly linked to one of the Great Lakes. Scirever says not as much is known about “interdunal” wetlands

While cold temperatures and heavy snow can cause some changes, Schriever says the habitats are harsh regardless of severe winter weather. She says changes caused by human activity, such as new developments, are usually drastic and quick.

Extended Interview with Tiffany Schriever in WMUK's WestSouthwest podcast

Schriever says research of wetlands can contribute to the understanding of the Great Lakes region. She says much of wetlands policy is aimed at larger areas, but most wetlands are small and “unregulated.” Schriever says the research can also give some indication about the effects of climate change on the Great Lakes coast.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Gordon Evans became WMUK's Content Director in 2019 after more than 20 years as an anchor, host and reporter. A 1990 graduate of Michigan State, he began work at WMUK in 1996.
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