Penn State Wetlands Project Seeks Scientific Evaluation Criteria

ays. "To truly create or restore a wetland in a specific site, you have to match the structure and characteristics of whatever wetland type best fits the site. Otherwise, the wetland will function differently. "Brooks explains that forested wetlands fed by groundwater are the most abundant type of wetlands in the Mid-Atlantic area, and these forested areas are most commonly lost to development. If the forested wetlands are restored or created, the most common type is an open-water pond with emergent forest vegetation.

"The flora and fauna associated with forested wetlands and open-water wetlands are markedly different," Brooks says. "What this means is that some types of wetlands will be very hard to replace, and if the choice comes down to destroying a wetland, it's important to know which types can be difficult to replace."

The team's research also revealed that while different types of wetlands obviously have different characteristics, created wetlands have different characteristics from the wetland types they are modeled on. "A created wetland looks like a natural site, but it really doesn't behave like one," he says. Although Brooks says the wetlands assessment project has given resource professionals the tools with which to identify or describe wetland types, the next step to completing the portrait of the state's wetlands is understanding how wetlands function.

"What we're missing is the personality of wetlands," Brooks says. "What do wetlands do, and why do they do it?"

To find the key to the "personality" of wetlands, the Penn State Cooperative Wetlands Center is initiating another three-year wetland project, led by Brooks and C. Andrew Cole, affiliate assistant professor of landscape architecture, designed to discover how wetlands function, including how wetlands change over time and how human disturbances affect their natural progression.

"You always need more inf

Contact: John Wall
Penn State

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