EPA Science Inventory

Intermittent Surface Water Connectivity: Fill and Spill vs. Fill and Merge Dynamics

Citation:

Leibowitz, S., D. Mushet, AND W. Newton. Intermittent Surface Water Connectivity: Fill and Spill vs. Fill and Merge Dynamics. WETLANDS. The Society of Wetland Scientists, McLean, VA, 36:S323-S342, (2016).

Description:

Intermittent surface connectivity can influence aquatic systems, since chemical and biotic movements are often associated with water flow. Although often referred to as fill and spill, wetlands also fill and merge. We examined the effects of these connection types on water levels, ion concentrations, and biotic communities of eight prairie pothole wetlands between 1979 and 2015. Fill and spill caused pulsed surface water connections that were limited to periods following spring snow melt. In contrast, two wetlands connected through fill and merge experienced a nearly continuous, 20-year surface water connection and had completely coincident water levels. Fill and spill led to minimal convergence in dissolved ions and macroinvertebrate composition, while these constituents converged under fill and merge. The primary factor determining difference in responses was duration of the surface water connection between wetland pairs. Our findings suggest that investigations into the effects of intermittent surface water connections should not consider these connections generically, but need to address the specific types of connections. In particular, fill and spill promotes external water exports while fill and merge favors internal storage. The behaviors of such intermittent connections will likely be accentuated under a future with more frequent and severe climate extremes.

Purpose/Objective:

Under the Safe and Sustainable Water Resources National Program, work is being done to quantify spatial and temporal variation in wetland connectivity in three regions, including the Prairie Pothole Region. In this study, we examine intermittent surface water connectivity between water bodies, which can influence aquatic systems through movement of chemical and biotic constituents via water flow. In particular, we identify two separate types of surface water connectivity – fill and spill vs. fill and merge – and examine the effects they have on water levels, ion concentrations, and biotic communities of eight prairie pothole wetlands. Fill and spill caused pulsed surface water connections that were limited to periods following spring snow melt. In contrast, two wetlands connected through fill and merge experienced a nearly continuous, 20-year surface water connection and had completely coincident water levels. Fill and spill led to minimal convergence in dissolved ions and macroinvertebrate composition, while these constituents converged under fill and merge. Our findings suggest that investigations into the effects of intermittent surface water connections should not consider these connections generically, but need to address the specific types of connections. In particular, fill and spill promotes external water exports while fill and merge favors internal storage. This work is a supplemental study under SSWR 3.01G, and will contribute to other studies being conducted under an ongoing Interagency Agreement with the US Geological Survey.

URLs/Downloads:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13157-016-0830-z   Exit

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Completion Date: 12/31/2016
Record Last Revised: 02/08/2017
Record Created: 02/08/2017
Record Released: 02/08/2017
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 335265

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LABORATORY

WESTERN ECOLOGY DIVISION

FRESHWATER ECOLOGY BRANCH