Ecosystem Processes

  • Dennis WhighamEmail author
Reference work entry


Wetlands are important and essential components of landscapes because they provide important goods and services to societies. In some instances wetland values are difficult to quantify (e.g., aesthetic and recreational values) while other services that can be quantified (e.g., retention of water to mitigate flood events, recharge of groundwater, carbon storage, removal of pollutants and toxics); even though methods for quantification may not be fully developed. Three ecological processes (primary production, secondary production, decomposition) are key elements in enabling wetlands to support earth’s life support systems that provide the global services that benefit humankind as well as directly generating food, fuel, and raw materials that support human needs. While the functional benefits that wetlands provide are widely known and accepted, there remain many challenges to integrating scientific knowledge about wetlands into societal decisions that restore or secure the ecological integrity of wetlands to assure that they continue to freely provide essential goods and services.


Primary production Secondary production Decomposition Nitrogen Phosphorus Goods and services 


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Smithsonian Environmental Research CenterEdgewaterUSA

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