Haag, K: Bathymetry and vegetation in isolated marsh and cyp

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Wetland bathymetry and vegetation mapping are two commonly used lines of evidence for assessing the hydrologic and ecologic status of expansive coastal and riverine wetlands. For small isolated freshwater wetlands, however, bathymetric data coupled with vegetation assessments are generally scarce, despite the prevalence of isolated wetlands in many regions of the United States and the recognized importance of topography as a control on inundation patterns and vegetation distribution.

In the northern Tampa Bay area of west-central Florida, bathymetry was mapped and vegetation was assessed in five marsh and five cypress wetlands. These 10 isolated wetlands were grouped into three categories based on the effects of ground-water withdrawals from regional municipal well fields: natural (no effect), impaired (drier than natural), and augmented (wetlands with artificially augmented water levels). Delineation of the wetland perimeter was a critical component for estimating wetland-surface area and stored water volume. The wetland perimeter was delineated by the presence of Serenoa repens (the "palmetto fringe") at 9 of the 10 sites. At the 10th site, where the palmetto fringe was absent, hydric-soils indicators were used to delineate the perimeter. Bathymetric data were collected using one or more techniques, depending on the physical characteristics of each wetland. Wetland stage was measured hourly using continuous stage recorders. Wetland vegetation was assessed semiannually for 2 1/2 years in fixed plots located at three distinct elevations. Vegetation assessments were used to determine the community composition and the relative abundance of obligate, facultative wet, and facultative species at each elevation.

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