Wetlands as keystone ecosystems: conservation cornerstores in dynamically-changing landscapes-

David Alexander Locky

Proceedings of the 15th International Peat Congress


conservation, function, keystone-ecosystem, peatland, policy, value, wetland




Ecosystems are interconnected to each other in a web of patches, some of which may be more important regionally than others. These are as keystone ecosystems, ecosystems which have an impact on the landscape inordinate to their size or distribution. Keystone ecosystem evolved from the antecedent keystone species concept and the associated keystone processes model. While these concepts share similar characteristics as with keystone species, the keystone ecosystem concept requires refinement. Wetlands were first introduced as keystone ecosystems in Alberta by Locky (2011). In addition to functioning as distinct ecosystems unto themselves, wetlands are critical conduits between upland and aquatic ecosystems on a heterogenous landscape. Wetlands, like other keystone ecosystems, influence the landscape by two primary but not mutually exclusive pathways: shaping landscape disturbance regimes and providing limited resources on the landscape (DeMaynadier and Hunter 1994). They can survive fire and often remain unlogged, both cases equally providing reliable oases in seas of disturbance. Their…