Our Changing Wetlands: Benefits, Threats, and Conservation

News item published on: 2015-11-11 12:41:56

Gulf Coast Libraries, Harrison County Library System, Long Beach Public Library, and Hancock County Library System will host Dr. Francis Bozzolo as he discusses “Our Changing Wetlands:  Benefits, Threats, and Conservation” on Thursday, November 12, from 7 – 8 p.m. in the Pass Christian Library, 111 Hiern Ave, Pass Christian, MS 39571.

Dr. Bozzolo came to The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast campus in Long Beach in 2014, where he currently teaches introductory biology, botany, and ecology.  Having received his PhD from San Diego State University in 2012, his research focused on the interactions of plants, bacteria, and fungi in the soil. These organisms interact with each other in complex ways that can strongly influence the availability of nutrients for plant growth and can be significantly altered by the arrival of invasive plant species. Dr. Bozzolo also spent three summers in the Alaskan arctic tundra, studying the effect of climate change on the sensitive and vulnerable tundra landscape and seasonal freshwater wetlands that cover northern Alaska and Canada.

The United States has lost more than half of its wetlands over the last 200 years. The rate of coastal wetland loss has increased to over 80,000 acres per year, up from 59,000 acres per year lost between 1998 and 2004. Wetlands provide barriers to tides and storm surges, act like sponges to slow and reduce the impacts of flooding, filter pollutants and toxins out of rivers and streams, provide year-round or nesting habitat for tens of millions of birds, and are home for adult or juvenile life stages of more than 75% of commercial fish stocks in the US (including more than 50% of the fish stocks in the Southeast). Despite their importance, wetlands are being lost to agriculture, urban spread, erosion, and the damming, channelization, and diversion of streams and rivers. However, some wetland restoration projects have been remarkably successful, and provide hope for the future of these ecosystems and the many benefits they provide to both natural systems and human society.

The Science Café offers those with minimal background in science the chance to meet and discuss scientific issues in a relaxed social setting.  Admission is free and open to the public. 

For more information, contact Adrienne McPhaul, Librarian for Science and Technology and Nursing at Gulf Coast Libraries at 228.214.3467 or adrienne.mcphaul@usm.edu.