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Models to Assess Wetland Health

Land managers want to manage resources at a large scale.

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California water conservation in watersheds Smithsonian scientists recently reported a promising method of wetland assessment that will help environmental managers quickly take stock of wetlands across an entire watershed.

Tools for this kind of rapid watershed-scale assessment—relying on a few easily measurable key factors—have been previously unavailable to managers.

In three papers published in the September 2007 issue of the journal Wetlands, Dennis Whigham, Donald Weller, and Thomas Jordan of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) and their colleagues present the results of a large-scale study that combines field studies and remote-sensing data to assess the ecological functioning of wetlands in a landscape. The researchers based their study on an approach previously developed for assessing individual sites, called the Hydrogeomorphic(HGM) approach, in which ecological conditions are inferred from readily observable indicators, such as plant species present and the degree of human disturbance.

"We took these methods for assessing wetland functions and expanded them to a whole-landscape scale, which is something that has not been effectively done before," said Whigham, who coordinated the project. "These days, most land managers are not asking how to understand what is going on in an individual wetland, they want to manage resources at a much larger scale."

More information about the project is available at www.serc.si.edu.
A recent announcement regarding the project may be found at www.serc.si.edu.

For more information, contact
Dennis Whigham
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
P.O. Box 28
Edgewater, MD 21037.
443-482-2226

Edited by Carolyn Allen
| wetland | toolkit | pollution prevention |

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