2009 Progress Report: Forecasting Critical Ecosystem Services from Measures of Wetland Condition at theWatershed Scale in Freshwater Wetlands of Pennsylvania and Ohio

EPA Grant Number: R834262
Title: Forecasting Critical Ecosystem Services from Measures of Wetland Condition at theWatershed Scale in Freshwater Wetlands of Pennsylvania and Ohio
Investigators: Wardrop, Denice Heller , Fennessy, M. Siobhan
Institution: Pennsylvania State University , Kenyon College
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: May 1, 2009 through April 30, 2012 (Extended to July 31, 2013)
Project Period Covered by this Report: May 1, 2009 through April 30,2010
Project Amount: $471,303
RFA: Forecasting Ecosystem Services from Wetland Condition Analyses (2008) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Ecosystems , Water

Objective:

To provide an estimation procedure for wetland ecosystem services that allows wetland management and restoration approaches to align with the provision of ecosystem services.  The study achieves this through the following:

  • Identification of ecosystem services that are critical to human well-being (nitrogen retention and cycling, carbon sequestration and storage, and flood abatement);
  • Construction of quantitative process models that relate stressors (related to both land cover and climate change) to condition assessment data (generally used to describe the condition of physical, chemical, or biological compartments) to these critical ecosystem services, and provide a quantitative estimate of accrual;
  • Identification of robust condition assessment data sets that cover a range of important wetland types to allow parameterization of such models, and an analytical method to do so;
  • Specification of the relevant spatial scales on which ecosystem services can be managed, and subsequent estimation of the accrual in ecosystem services on these scales.

These objectives are met through the following major tasks in the scope of work:

  1. Determination of field sites
  2. Field measurements of nitrogen cycling/retention, carbon sequestration, and flood storage
  3. Integration of data – linking condition data to services

Progress Summary:

Work this year focused on site selection and instrumentation, in preparation for major field sampling events in Summer and Fall 2011 (Task 1 and Task 2). Site selection was concentrated on establishing new sites in Ohio, since a pool of instrumented sites already existed in Pennsylvania under previous projects.  We developed criteria for site selection in both Pennsylvania and Ohio that will allow us to link wetland condition to ecosystem services, and consisted of the identification of a major ecoregion, predominant Hydrogeomorphic (HGM) wetland type, and overall condition (low, moderate, and unimpacted).  Criteria for the new Ohio sites included 1) location within the Erie-Ontario Lake Plain ecoregion (northeastern Ohio), 2) HGM class, in this case riverine and depressional wetlands were targeted, and 3) the ecological condition of each site as measured by the Ohio Rapid Assessment Method (ORAM).   ORAM data was obtained from previous studies of wetland condition in Ohio or by collection of ORAM data as part of site reconnaissance.  Approximately 20 sites were visited to determine their appropriateness for inclusion in the study.  Of these, ten were selected including five depressional and five riverine sites.  The required permissions were gathered to allow us to access the sites for the duration of the study.  A summary of the sites is shown in Table 1.

Table 1.  Summary of Ohio sites. 

 

Site Name

County (OH)

HGM Type

Vegetation Type

Relative Ecological Condition

Wells Installed

Ballfield

Knox

Depressional

Emergent

High

3

Bee Rescue

Cuyahoga

Depressional

Emergent

High

3

Secret Marsh

Summit

Depressional

Emergent

Moderate

3

Batnest

Knox

Depressional

Emergent

Low

3

Blackout

Cuyahoga

Depressional

Emergent

Low

3

Skunk Forest

Cuyahoga

Riverine

Forested

High

4

Lizard Tail

Cuyahoga

Riverine

Forested

Moderate-high

3

Hellbender

Knox

Riverine

Forested

Moderate

4

Vernal Pool

Cuyahoga

Riverine

Forested

Moderate-low

3

Kokosing

Knox

Riverine

Forested

Low

4

At each site either 3 or 4 groundwater monitoring wells were installed and programmed for data collection.  In order to ensure that well placement and data collection is consistent, project personnel from Penn State University visited the Ohio sites in June, 2010 to aid in installing the wells and to become familiar with the study sites.  Three wells were installed in each of the depressional sites along the observed gradient of elevation change or the direction of water movement.  Where site access allowed, four wells were installed at the riverine sites, three within the site itself (all sites) and a fourth well upsteam of the site to better capture the hydrologic functioning of the sites.  In two cases, landowner issues prevented in from installing the fourth well.  Well data was downloaded within 2 weeks of the installation date of each of the 33 wells to ensure that they were logging data properly. Well data will continue to be monitored and downloaded at appropriate intervals.  Well data continued to be collected at all Pennsylvania sites in a similar fashion.

To address our question on the carbon accretion rates at each site soil cores will be collected. To prepare for this part of the study a subcontract was established with the laboratory of Chris Craft (Indiana University) for analysis of the radionuclide marker Cesium-137 (137Cs) activity in 2 cm soil depth increments.  A soil corer was purchased so that cores can be collected in year 2 of the project from all sites for analysis. Soil cores will be collected from each wetland from a randomly selected location that will allow us to make maximum use of the hydrology data.  Cores will be collected using a hand-operated soil corer designed for use in wetland soils.  Medium-term (40-year) C accretion rates will be determined by measuring the radionuclide marker Cesium-137 (137Cs) activity in 2 cm soil depth increments. Depth increments will also be analyzed for bulk density, total organic carbon, and total nitrogen by combustion on a Perkin-Elmer 2400 series CHN analyzer.  This will allow us to estimate the rate of accumulation of organic C, mineral sediment and nutrients for each wetland site and calculate carbon storage at each site.

Future Activities:

The major objectives for the next reporting period are the completion of both the denitrification and carbon sequestration field efforts at the Pennsylvania and Ohio sites. The field effort will proceed in four major phases: field trial and training of the push-pull method, coring of the remaining Pennsylvania sites, summer denitrification measurements at the Pennsylvania sites, and the same at the Ohio sites.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 1 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

hydrogeomorphic, ecosystem services, RFA, Air, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Atmosphere

Relevant Websites:

www.wetlands.psu.edu Exit

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2010 Progress Report
  • 2011
  • 2012
  • Final