EPA Science Inventory

Geographically isolated wetlands: What we've learned since SWANCC

Citation:

Leibowitz, S. Geographically isolated wetlands: What we've learned since SWANCC. Presented at Society of Wetland Scientists, Duluth, MN, June 02 - 06, 2013.

Description:

The 2001 SWANCC and 2006 Rapanos US Supreme Court decisions created a need for research on geographically isolated wetlands (GIWs). In 2003, a special issue on isolated wetlands was published in Wetlands. That issue contained fifteen papers that reviewed and summarized the literature on GIWs, including their functions, descriptions of specific GIW types, legal and regulatory history, and state responses to the Court’s decisions. Since the special issue, much more research has been published on these types of wetlands. However, the information needs have also become more specific, with the Rapanos decision requiring an understanding of how these wetlands contribute to the integrity of navigable waters. Here I provide a review of what we have learned about GIWs since SWANCC. I discuss general functions of isolated wetlands, and how isolation affects their ecology. In addition, I focus on an EPA report that assesses connectivity and effects of GIWs on downstream waters. Finally, I discuss several recent publications that provide important new perspectives on isolated wetlands. While much has been learned about GIWs since SWANCC, much is still unknown about how these wetlands interact with other aquatic resources as functioning components of watersheds.

Purpose/Objective:

Recent US Supreme Court cases – the 2001 SWANCC and 2006 Rapanos decisions – have dealt with the question of which aquatic resources are considered waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act (CWA). In particular, both of these decisions have considered whether geographically isolated wetlands (GIWs) are jurisdictional under the CWA. Whether or not a GIW is jurisdictional depends on whether it is connected to a jurisdictional water or, if not, its having a role in maintaining the integrity of a navigable water. These decisions have created a need for research GIWs. This talk will provide a review of what we have learned about GIWs since SWANCC. It will cover general functions of isolated wetlands, and how isolation affects their ecology. In addition, it will summarize findings of an EPA report that assesses connectivity and effects of GIWs on downstream waters. Finally, several recent publications will be discussed that provide important new perspectives on isolated wetlands. While much has been learned about GIWs since SWANCC, much is still unknown about how these wetlands interact with other aquatic resources as functioning components of watersheds.

URLs/Downloads:

ABSTRACT - LEIBOWITZ.PDF   (PDF,NA pp, 37.42 KB,  about PDF)

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/ABSTRACT)
Completion Date: 06/10/2013
Record Last Revised: 06/10/2013
Record Created: 06/10/2013
Record Released: 06/10/2013
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 256515

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LAB

WESTERN ECOLOGY DIVISION

FRESHWATER ECOLOGY BRANCH