Watersheds and Wetlands: Large Scale Disturbances and Small Scale Responses

EPA Grant Number: R824905
Title: Watersheds and Wetlands: Large Scale Disturbances and Small Scale Responses
Investigators: Cole, Charles Andrew , Brooks, Robert P. , Wardrop, Denice Heller
Institution: Penn State Coop. Wetlands Center
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: September 1, 1996 through August 31, 1999 (Extended to August 31, 2000)
Project Amount: $742,079
RFA: Water and Watersheds Research (1996) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water and Watersheds , Water


The purposes of this project are to: 1) assess characteristics of natural reference wetlands, and created wetlands, by watershed, disturbance, and hydrogeomorphic category in order to determine improved design characteristics for created wetlands implemented for mitigation purposes; 2) assess natural succession in reference wetlands using seed banks and soil dating; 3) assess characteristics of created wetlands of different ages to begin to determine successional pathways; 4) compare created wetlands with the reference sites to see if the created wetlands are "successful" in any sense; and 5) use disturbance theory to evaluate the impacts of the surrounding landscape on both reference and created wetlands and their successional trajectories. The project will build on a large data set already collected by the Penn State Cooperative Wetlands Center which covers hydrology, sedimentation, soils, vegetation, and wildlife habitat. We will intensively focus upon site hydrology as this impacts wetland character to the greatest extent. We will examine historic wetland communities through an analysis of the seed bank in soil layers dated using Cs137. These data, in conjunction with the analysis of historic aerial photography (to show land use), will enable us to evaluate how natural wetlands have changed in response to disturbance factors in their immediate watershed. We will examine created wetlands using the same approach, but instead substituting space for time in an effort to assess successional tendencies of the created wetlands. We will attempt to determine if created wetlands are moving towards some model exhibited by the reference wetlands or if the created sites form a unique population of wetlands. If so, then we will use design criteria derived from the natural sites to propose changes in how, and where, created sites are implemented in the landscape. Our preliminary evidence shows that landscape position, in addition to construction technique, is a prime determinant of function in created wetlands. We expect that the project will deliver both basic and applied information. We expect to learn much about the processes of succession in wetlands, and primary succession in created wetlands. We also expect to improve on the design concepts for wetland mitigation such that new mitigation projects will begin to approach the replacement of function rather than just creating a wet spot on the ground.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 34 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 10 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, Water & Watershed, Hydrology, Ecology and Ecosystems, Watersheds, created wetlands, large scale disturbances, Penn State Cooperative Wetland Center, hydrogeomorphic categories, seed banks, aquatic ecosystems, wildlife habitat, ecology assessment models

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1997
  • 1998 Progress Report
  • 1999 Progress Report
  • Final Report