Assessing connections between wetland ecological health and adjacent upland land use, we found upland buffers are important for managing the quality of NYS' wetland resources..
We refined our three-tiered wetland assessment methods (Shappell et al. 2016) and developed new protocols for quantifying the adjacent upland Area Of Influence (AOI) based on field and GIS data. We developed novel automated protocols for digitizing point-specific AOI, enabling us to calculate metrics such as maximum impervious surface and canopy cover. Level 1 AOI scores were compared to comparable scores generated for the contiguous wetland buffer, new rapid field buffer protocols, and our Level 3 Floristic Quality (FQ)metrics. We expanded our statewide coverage by including partner data from the Adirondack Park Agency, New York City-based Natural Areas Conservancy, and our National Wetland Condition Assessment surveys. Using existing data, we developed a new metric to reflect wetland integrity across these multiple datasets (Level 2.5). We compared performance (significance) of all metrics using cross-level validation and developed thresholds for describing wetland condition (good, fair, and poor). Our growing wetland database includes >200 survey sites ranging from pristine dwarf shrub bogs to urban maple-ash swamps and includes a diverse flora of 800+ vascular plant species.
Good floristic quality and wetland condition were negatively correlated with increasing stressors in the landscape. Recalibrating NYRAM (ver. 5) resulted in a more robust metric that strongly correlates with FQ; and when combined with threshold analysis, we find wetlands in good condition generally have FQ scores greater than 5.6 and NYRAM scores less than 38. We saw significant correlations between FQ and our AOI variables, but they performed no better than scores calculated for the contiguous wetland buffer. Further, wetlands in poor condition tended to have sparse canopy cover in the buffer immediately surrounding the wetland (less than 30%). Emergent and deciduous shrub wetlands strongly reflected stressors in the surrounding landscape with nearly a twofold difference in FQ scores between moderate- and minimally-developed environments. Unfortunately, localized Level 1 AOI-specific scores used in this project did not provide a clear method for quantifying the impacts from site-specific activities in upland areas on wetland condition. However, increased canopy cover in the upland buffer of the AOI was positively correlated with floristic quality. These results suggest wetland condition is influenced by several factors including land use history, landscape condition (LCA), and the overall integrity of the upland buffer (e.g., natural buffer width and canopy cover).
Laura J. Shappell and Timothy G. Howard. 2018. Supporting Actionable Decision-Making For Wetland Permitting In New York From Urban To Rural Environments. EPA Wetland Program Development Grant. Final Report. New York Natural Heritage Program, Albany, NY. Final report (PDF, 7.3 MB).
Wetland Assessment Workshop (autumn 2016): Using NY Rapid Assessment Method (NYRAM ver. 4.2) for quantifying wetland condition
In partnership with the New York State Wetlands Forum (NYSWF), Laura Shappell co-led a one-day wetland assessment workshop in the Syracuse metro area at Beaver Lake Nature Center. Approximately 50 people attended, ranging from wetland professionals to students studying natural resources.
The following documents were provided as handouts to attendees (NYRAM ver. 4.2, last updated Nov. 2016):
adjacent land use/land cover (LULC), ecological integrity, historical land use/land cover, rapid assessment method, three-tiered assessment, upland buffer, wetland condition assessment, wetland floristic quality, wetland monitoring
Dec. 9, 2020 | Updated Feb. 8, 2021, 11:15 p.m.