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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory » Research » Research Project #424789

Research Project: Wetland-Stream Hydrologic Connectivity and Ecosystem Services

Location: Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-13610-029-56-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: May 30, 2013
End Date: May 29, 2018

The objective of this collaboration is to address specific data gaps and research needs identified by a recent EPA assessment of the physical, chemical, and biological connections relevant to the implementation of Clean Water Act (CWA) programs. Based on that review, EPA has identified categories of data gaps and research needs, including: mapping to improve the accuracy of hydrographic and wetland maps representing the location and geographic extent of small or temporary streams, conveyances, open waters, and wetlands. This initial project is focused on methods for detecting or inferring ecologically important connections from geographically isolated wetlands (GIW) to downstream waters in different wetland landscape settings.

The geographic information system (GIS) and data analysis work will be completed at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC). The project will focus on the Choptank River Watershed on the eastern shore of Maryland as an appropriate site for beginning the analysis and the initial identification of ecological approaches and measurements that may be feasibly linked to remotely sensed data. Frequent trips to the field will be required in order to obtain ground-truth information from the remote sensing work. Information on hydrology, water chemistry, and some aspects of ecological functioning will be collected at multiple sites at a frequency determined by progress with a major remote-sensing GIS mapping component of the project. Specific analyses will be determined jointly between the Cooperator and BA once the project commences and are considering comparing connectivity in landscapes having a high density of wetlands (Tuckahoe Creek in the upper Choptank) vs. lower density of wetlands (lower Choptank watershed). This may contribute to understanding what landscape features influence stream-wetland connectivity in coastal plains watersheds. The Cooperator has a DEM and stream network for the Tuckahoe and when BA undertakes this analysis, the light detection and ranging (LiDAR)-derived digital elevation model (DEM) and synthetic network for the lower Choptank would need to be developed.