Landscape metrics as predictors of hydrologic connectivity between Coastal Plain forested wetlands and streams


Geographically isolated wetlands, those entirely surrounded by uplands, provide numerous landscape-scale ecological functions, many of which are dependent on the degree to which they are hydrologically connected to nearby waters. There is a growing need for field-validated, landscape-scale approaches for classifying wetlands based on their expected degree of hydrologic connectivity with stream networks. This study quantified seasonal variability in surface hydrologic connectivity (SHC) patterns between forested Delmarva bay wetland complexes and perennial/intermittent streams at 23 sites over a full water year (2014-15). Field data were used to develop metrics to predict SHC using hypothesized landscape drivers of connectivity duration and timing. Connection duration was most strongly related to the number and area of wetlands within wetland complexes as well as the channel width of the temporary stream connecting the wetland complex to a perennial/intermittent stream. Timing of SHC onset was related to the topographic wetness index and drainage density within the catchment. Stepwise regression modeling found that landscape metrics could be used to predict SHC duration as a function of wetland complex catchment area, wetland area, wetland number, and soil available water storage (adj-R2 = 0.74, p \textless 0.0001). Results may be applicable to assessments of forested depressional wetlands elsewhere in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern Coastal Plain, where climate, landscapes, and hydrological inputs and losses are expected to be similar to the study area.

Publication Type
Journal Article
Steven M. Epting
Jacob D. Hosen
Laurie C. Alexander, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Megan W. Lang
Hydrological Processes