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Characteristic community structure of Florida's subtropical wetlands: the Florida wetland condition index
Reiss, K. C., M. T. Brown, AND C. R. LANE. Characteristic community structure of Florida's subtropical wetlands: the Florida wetland condition index. Wetlands Ecology and Management. Springer Science and Business Media B.V;Formerly Kluwer Academic Publishers B.V., , Germany, 18(5):543-556, (2010).
The EPA Office of Water has recognized a critical need for states and federal agencies to be able to quantitatively assess the condition of the Nation’s wetland resources. Currently, >85% of states, tribes, and territories are lacking even rudimentary biological assessment methodologies for wetlands. Additional important needs identified include obtaining base line nutrient and physical/chemical conditions to aid in understanding the role of wetland systems (isolated wetlands in particular) in ensuring aquatic life and beneficial uses of lakes, rivers, and streams in the watershed. To address these challenges, the following research on isolated wetlands is proposed: Within a region, 1) Develop a probabilistic sampling design that stratifies isolated wetlands by type and size (also targeting reference conditions); 2) Collect biotic data using macroinvertebrates, macrophytes, and diatoms; 3) Collect abiotic (water and soil chemistry) data to establish base line conditions, quantify wetland contribution to landscape nutrient dynamics, and establish a spectral library for future rapid assessment of nutrient sequestration abilities of isolated wetlands; 4) Assess wetland condition with Level 1 (geographic information systems - GIS) and Level 2 (rapid assessment) characterization methods; 5) Develop metrics and correlate biotic signature to local and landscape assessments; 6) Report on the condition of systems across region and recommend assessment methods to states and tribes; 7) Model isolated wetland contribution to landscape nutrient dynamics based on analyses using visual and near-infrared spectrometer (VNIRS) data.
Depending upon the classification scheme applied, there are between 10 and 45 different wetland types in Florida. Land use and land cover change has a marked effect on wetland condition, and different wetland types are affected differentially depending on many abiotic and biotic variables. To assess wetland condition, we have developed a Florida Wetland Condition Index (FWCI) composed of indicators of community structure in the diatom, marcophyte, and macroinvertebrate assemblages for 216 wetlands. Depressional wetlands located along a human disturbance gradient throughout Florida were sampled for each assemblage as well as water and soil physical/chemical measures. Flowing water wetlands were sampled for macrophytes. The landscape Development Intensity Index (LDI) was used to quantify the human disturbance gradient. In general, human disturbance in adjacent areas had the greatest impact on depressional herbaceous wetlands, followed by depressional forested wetlands. Forested flowing water wetlands were less affected by local conditions, with most of their changes in biotic integrity correlated with alterations at the larger watershed scale. Predictive models of ecosystem change can be developed based on changes from human disturbance and effects on the community structure of biotic assemblages.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH LABORATORY
ECOLOGICAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH DIVISION
ECOSYSTEMS RESEARCH BRANCH