Christopher Joyce, Professor of Ecology at the University of Brighton, presents his inaugural lecture 'Wetlands in a changing world': Wetlands are special environments where land and water meet, such as floodplains, marshes and wet grasslands. They are considered the most important ecosystems in the world because of the benefits they provide to society, including flood protection, water purification, and biodiversity. Humans have exploited wetlands for thousands of years for agricultural production, including rice cultivation and forage for livestock. Wetlands are, however, threatened globally by drainage, agricultural intensification, and abandonment of previously managed sites. They face an uncertain future because, although opportunities exist for the restoration of damaged wetlands, climate change poses emerging challenges for their sustainable management.
This lecture will introduce the special features of wetlands and highlight research by Professor Joyce investigating the ecological implications of environmental change in European wet grasslands. It will conclude by considering one of the most pressing questions for environmental scientists and practitioners: what is the future for the world’s wetlands?