Praise for the previous editions of Wetlands:

"Wetlands, the field of study, would not be what it is without Wetlands, the book."
--Bill Streever, Wetlands, 2001

"The Third Edition of this highly successful book manages to set new standards in presentation and content to confirm its place as the first point of reference for those working or studying wetlands."
--Chris Bradley, University of Birmingham, UK, Regulated Rivers: Research and Management

"This book is the wetlands bible...the most wide-ranging [book] on the subject."
--Carl Folke, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Land Use Policy

"The single best combination text and reference book on wetland ecology."
--Joseph S. Larson, University of Massachusetts, Journal of Environmental Quality

"First on my list of references to recommend to someone new to wetland policy management or science."
--Jay A. Leitch, North Dakota State University, Water Resources Bulletin

For more than two decades, William Mitsch and James Gosselink's Wetlands has been the premier reference on wetlands for ecologists, land use planners, and water resource managers worldwide-a comprehensive compendium of the state of knowledge in wetland science, management, and restoration.

Now Mitsch and Gosselink bring their classic book up to date with substantial new information and a streamlined text supplemented with a support web site. This new Fourth Edition maintains the authoritative quality of its predecessors while offering such revisions as:

  • Refocused coverage on the three main parts of the book: 1. An introduction to the extent, definitions, and general features of wetlands of the world; 2. Wetland science; and 3. Wetland management.

  • New chapter on climate change and wetlands that introduces the student to the roles that wetlands have in climate change and impact that climate change has on wetlands.

  • Increased international coverage, including wetlands of Mexico and Central America, the Congolian Swamp and Sine Saloum Delta of Africa, the Western Siberian Lowlands, the Mesopotamian Marshland restoration in Iraq, and the wetland parks of Asia such as Xixi National Wetland Park in eastern China and Gandau Nature Park in Taipei, Taiwan. This expanded coverage is illustrated with over 50 wetland photographs from around the world.

  • Several hundred new refer?ences for further reading, up-to-date data, and the latest research findings.

  • Over 35 new info boxes and sidebars provide essential background information to concepts being presented and case studies of wetland restoration and treatment in practice.


This is the fourth edition of Wetlands—we have done a new edition every 7 years since the first edition came out in 1986. The first important change in Wetlands 4th edition (referred to here as Wetlands 4) is that it is shorter than Wetlands 3rd edition—with 35 percent fewer pages and 14 chapters rather than 21. It is quite rare that a new edition of a book is smaller than its predecessor; but we had our reasons. The book was becoming encyclopedic and less of a textbook with every edition and yet we were still not covering every type of wetland in the ecosystem chapters. So we shortened the book by removing the seven wetland ecosystem chapters that were in the middle of the previous 3 editions of this book. We did so with great care and respect for the reputation that this so-called “wetland bible” has developed with its previous editions. Now, with those chapters eliminated, there will be less concern expressed by some that we left out their favorite wetland and much more opportunity to focus on the three remaining sections in Wetlands 4—an introduction to the extent, definitions and general features of wetlands of the world (called Introduction), wetland science (called The Wetland Environment), and the applied section called Wetland Management. In some cases, we moved important principles from the removed ecosystem chapters to one of the three sections in this new edition.

We added a new chapter to Wetlands 4 on “Climate Change and Wetlands” (Chapter 10). This chapter includes new information, even up to our publishing date, from the International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) 2007 reports. Since wetlands may be the linchpins of climate change, this may be the most important addition to the book in some time. Wetlands are affected by climate change probably more than any other ecosystem and they are also sources of important greenhouse gases, mainly methane and nitrous oxide. They also represent enormous storages of carbon—equivalent to 100 years or more of present-day fossil fuel emissions. Any climate drift could have major effects on those storages of carbon in the world.

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