Return to pristine wetlands

Getting back to my academic origin this week, I found myself in one of the remaining pristine environments in Hawaii – Pepeopae on the island of Molokai.  Pepeopae is a mountain top wetland protected within the Kamakou Preserve by The Nature Conservancy.  Aside from a stray “naughty deer” this week, the wetland is ungulate and invasive plant species free.  This magical place resembles wetlands worldwide from the United Kingdom to Svalbard – commonalities exist in the form and function of plant communities and sensory experience of the wet ground, cool humid air, and color palette. Why is this wetland here, why doesn’t the water drain down the mountainous terrain?  A clay layer exists in the bottom of the peat, is it a buried spodic horizon or a shrink-swell clay layer that swelled and never shrank under a suddenly wetter climate 14,000 years ago?

 


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