Using landscape metrics to predict hydrologic connectivity patterns between forested wetlands and streams in a coastal plain watershed
Epting, Steven Michael
Palmer, Margaret A
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Geographically isolated wetlands, those entirely surrounded by uplands, provide numerous ecological functions, some 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 connectivity with stream networks. During the 2015 water year, flow duration was recorded in non-perennial streams (n = 23) connecting forested wetlands and nearby perennial streams on the Delmarva Peninsula (Maryland, USA). Field and GIS-derived landscape metrics (indicators of catchment, wetland, non-perennial stream, and soil characteristics) were assessed as predictors of wetland-stream connectivity (duration, seasonal onset and offset dates). Connection duration was most strongly correlated with non-perennial stream geomorphology and wetland characteristics. A final GIS-based stepwise regression model (adj-R2 = 0.74, p < 0.0001) described wetland-stream connection duration as a function of catchment area, wetland area and number, and soil available water storage.