Submitted to: National Sedimentaton Laboratory (NSL)- 50 Years of Soil & Water Research in a Changing Agricultural Environment
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/25/2008
Publication Date: 9/3/2008
Citation: Lang, M.W., McCarty, G.W., Walbridge, M.R., Ritchie, J.C., Palmer, M., McDonough, O., Gustafson, A., Fisher, T., Eckles, D., Denver, J., Ator, S. 2008. The Choptank Watershed Wetland Conservation Effects Assessment Project: Monitoring the effect of wetland conservation practices on water quality [abstract]. Abstracts of the 50 years of Soil and Water Research in a Changing Agricultural Environment Conference. 2008 CDROM. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: The Choptank Watershed Wetland Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) brings together an interdisciplinary group of experts and resources from multiple federal agencies and the University of Maryland to assess the ability of native, restored, and prior-converted wetlands on cropland to improve water quality. The provision of these wetland services is vital to the health of the Choptank River, a major tributary of the Chesapeake Bay with high nutrient and sediment loads originating from agriculture. Project scientists are synergistically combining information gained from individual wetlands with landscape scale measurements from remotely sensed images and other geospatial datasets. Over fifty shallow groundwater wells have been installed in the headwaters of the Choptank River Watershed at nine wetland sites, divided equally between native, restored, and prior-converted wetlands on cropland. Water quality sampling at these wells and adjacent surface waters (i.e., field parameters, major ions, dissolved gases, and a nutrient panel [N and P]), initiated in January 2008, is being used to assess the ability of these ecosystems to reduce and transform nutrients and the connection between wetlands and groundwater. These measurements will be complimented by deep core sampling of sediments and groundwater down to the first major confining layer beneath the wetland sites. Radar, lidar, and multispectral imagery, collected by satellites and aircraft, are being used to scale-up these in situ measurements to the watershed scale. Products derived from these remotely sensed data include maps of hydrology and hydrologic pathways, watershed extent, land cover, and vegetation metrics. The impact of this project is greatly enhanced by extending the analysis to adjacent streams and measuring the effect of wetland biogeochemical processes on stream health. Wetland and stream health is being assessed by examining macroinvertebrate biodiversity, temperature regulation, decomposition, and other ecologic indicators. Examination of the wetland/stream connection is especially timely given increasing attention on the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Project findings will be used to assess and improve the effectiveness of conservation practices and Farm Bill programs affecting wetlands and associated lands on the Maryland and Delaware Coastal Plain. This joint CEAP-Wetlands (NRCS)/Choptank Benchmark Watershed CEAP (ARS) project encourages future inter-agency cooperation and is an important step towards producing a national landscape analysis tool that can be used to support the adaptive management of wetland restoration and enhancement programs.