Frederick Lab – Wetlands Ecology and Conservation
Welcome to the Frederick Lab
Peter Frederick retired in January 2021, after 35 years at UF. Interests in the Frederick lab have been diverse, but centered around understanding wetland processes both for their own sake, and as guides to restoration and conservation activities. While particular animals or groups were often the focus of particular studies, it was the ecological processes that create habitat and maintain support for wetland communities that was the guiding core interest. It has long been recognized that wetlands are driven by abiotic factors such as temperature, nutrients and flood regime. Our work has demonstrated that rare, often cataclysmic natural disturbance events (drought, fire, flood, hurricanes) are critical to the maintenance of community dynamics and population size of many wetland animals. In some cases, our work has also shown that mobile wetland vertebrates may be adapted to and highly dependent upon a mosaic of wetland conditions created by large scale geographical and temporal discontinuities in disturbance regimes. The consequences of dampened cyclicity is also evident in reduced movement patterns and productivity of wetland birds. We have also spent much of the last three decades studying the effects of methylmercury in wetland vertebrates, and documented profound interactions of mercury and nutrition on avian populations in the wild. In addition, it is increasingly apparent that biotic influences (nutrient transfer, predation, and even vertebrate changes to hydrologic flow) are also important in structuring wetland ecosystems, and that wetland responses to abiotic cycles may be highly interactive with biotic communities. Identifying the mode and magnitude of natural cycling in wetlands is critical to directing the scale and focus of conservation, management and restoration. Inevitably, wetlands today are strongly affected by anthropogenic action, and documenting and untangling human effects from natural cycling has been an important part of our work.