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Salt marshes: A natural and unnatural history

Now championed as critical habitats for plants, animals, and people because of the environmental service and protection they provide, salt marshes were once considered unproductive wastelands, home solely to mosquitoes and toxic waste, and mistreated for centuries by the human population. Exploring the fascinating biodiversity of these boggy wetlands, SALT MARSHES: A Natural and Unnatural History (Paper $23.95, August 2009, 978-0-8135-4570-7), by Judith S. Weis and Carol A. Butler, offers readers a wealth of essential information about a variety of plants, fish, and animals, the importance of these habitats, consequences of human neglect and thoughtless development, and insight into how these wetlands recover.

Weis, professor of biological sciences at Rutgers University, Newark, and Butler, nature writer and photographer, shed ample light on the human impact of the marsh lands. SALT MARSHES includes chapters on physical and biological alterations, pollution, and remediation and recovery programs. In addition to a national and global perspective, SALT MARSHES places special emphasis on coastal wetlands in the Atlantic, the Gulf regions, and the San Francisco Bay Area, calling attention to their historical and economic legacies.

SALT MARSHES frames the politics of land use and how outcomes affect the survival of the wetlands. Weis and Butler explain how salt marshes shield and protect coastal areas from storms and floods, stabilizing the shorelines by taking the brunt of storm waves and flood waters. In recent years, the world has begun to see the importance of wetlands. In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina produced a catastrophe in New Orleans in part because of the loss of tidal wetlands and in Sri Lanka in December 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami caused much less devastation in areas where mangroves were not removed.


Contact: Carla Capizzi
Rutgers University

Page: 1

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