Digital Wetlands Database Development to Aid in Wetlands Assessment, Analysis, and Natural Resource Management Response in Southwestern Pennsylvania

EPA Grant Number: EM833026
Title: Digital Wetlands Database Development to Aid in Wetlands Assessment, Analysis, and Natural Resource Management Response in Southwestern Pennsylvania
Investigators: Whyte, Robert S , Kauffman, Chad M
Institution: California University of Pennsylvania
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: August 1, 2006 through July 31, 2008
Project Amount: $217,600
RFA: Targeted Research Grant (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Targeted Research


Wetlands are a sparse but important feature of a complex southwest Pennsylvania topography. The region’s historic coal industry, agriculture and more recent urban expansion and the resulting ecological effects from these activities make information on natural systems such as wetlands and associated drainage systems increasingly important. The challenge is to provide better and applied information on the status of the resource and benefits derived from its protection in the face of increasing developmental pressure and past land uses. Our proposed study will better define the region’s wetlands specifically seeking to provide a description of the resource and patterns and trends.


Seeking to better define and understand the effects of historical land uses, urbanization and a changing landscape setting, our objectives for this research are:

  1. Determine current wetland status in Southwestern Pennsylvania including: assess wetland loss, gain, and change in quality and type over time in selected urban and rural watersheds. We predict that the region’s wetlands are more numerous than documented but also that changes to the landscape and wetland hydrologic modifications have altered the type and function of many of the area wetlands.
  2. Create a unique interactive digital database and web-mapping service within a geographic information system for public utilization of mapping data for wetland status, function, and associated resource vulnerability assessment.
  3. Through workshops, coordinate wetland and natural resource management decisionmaking trees’ based upon the wetland and natural resource vulnerability assessment of specific wetlands and associated natural resources.

Expected Results:

Recognizing the importance of identifying and understanding any patterns and trends, an analysis of environmental stressors (e.g., acid mine drainage, flooding) will be conducted to determine which factors may adversely affect wetland condition and function. In addition, hydrologic modifications to existing wetlands will be examined since they may be sufficient to alter the wetland type such that area rainfall and drainage patterns may negatively impact the wetland. Similarly, changes in landscape setting may bring about hydrologic changes significantly impacting a wetlands ability to temporarily store or alleviate flood waters.

Supplemental Keywords:

Wetlands, natural resource management, database, watershed, interactive mapping,, RFA, ECOSYSTEMS, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, Terrestrial Ecosystems, Ecological Monitoring, Ecological Indicators, environmental monitoring, wetlands, ecosystem modeling, natural resource management, computer models, ecological modeling, ecological assessment

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2007
  • Final