Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #331921

Title: Conservation program and practice effects on ecosystem services in the mid atlantic region of the U.S

item LANG, M.W. - Department Of Fish And Wildlife
item McCarty, Gregory
item Ducey, Thomas
item Hunt, Patrick
item Miller, Jarrod
item Church, Clinton
item RABENHORST, M. - University Of Maryland
item FENSTERMACHER, D. - University Of Maryland
item YEPSEN, M. - University Of Maryland
item MCFARLAND, L. - Collaborator
item SHARIFI, AMIR - University Of Maryland
item ATOR, S.W. - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item DENVER, J. - Us Geological Survey (USGS)

Submitted to: Ecosystems
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/2016
Publication Date: 12/5/2016
Citation: Lang, M., Mccarty, G.W., Ducey, T.F., Hunt, P.G., Miller, J.O., Church, C., Rabenhorst, M., Fenstermacher, D., Yepsen, M., Mcfarland, L., Sharifi, A., Ator, S., Denver, J. 2016. Conservation program and practice effects on ecosystem services in the mid atlantic region of the U.S.ACES: A Community of Ecosystem Services Meeting.[abstract] Dec 5-9, 2016 Jacksonville FL. 2016 CDROM.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Mid-Atlantic Regional (MIAR) Wetland Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP-Wetland) study area covers approximately ~58,000 km2 in the eastern United States, including areas of within five states (North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey) and the District of Columbia. Wetlands are abundant within the study area, in large part due to the region’s relatively flat topography, close proximity to groundwater and the coast, and relatively high precipitation to ET ratio. Wetlands in the region provide critical ecosystem services, including the provision of freshwater, regulation of pollutants (e.g., nutrients), climate, hydrological flows, and natural hazards, as well as support for biotic communities. The study area’s wetlands are especially important as they help to maintain water quality and aquatic habitat in multiple inland Bays, comprising some of the largest and most productive estuarine ecosystems in the United States, and provide ecosystem services to a large and rapidly increasing human population. Wetlands are critical areas for nutrient transformation, and help mitigate eutrophication of many inland water bodies and coastal bays. A total of 48 primary study sites were selected (18 restored, 16 prior converted cropland, and 14 natural) to support assessment of current wetland restoration practices. Both remote sensing and in situ assessments were used to evaluate ecosystem service provision. The services evaluated include: climate regulation, pollution (nutrient) mitigation, water storage and biodiversity. Key recommendations to maximize ecosystem service provision include: 1) Longer easement/contract periods should be promoted to allow time for slower environmental processes to proceed; 2) Soil compaction should be avoided to encourage root growth and the movement of nitrate rich groundwater into wetland soils capable of nitrate removal; 3) Either a greater number of restored wetland cells and/or larger wetland cells should better support the regulation of hydrologic flows and groundwater levels, and the mitigation of natural hazards, such as flooding; 4) Natural wetlands should be conserved, not only due to the high level of ecosystem services that they provide, but also because they directly enhance provision of ecosystem services from restored wetlands and prior converted croplands; 5) Because local topographic relief does not predict groundwater flow pathways in flat landscapes, an effort should be made to restore wetlands in locations that are low relative to broad¬er-scale topographic gradients and are more likely to intercept up gradient groundwater containing agricultural contaminants, such as nitrate; 6) Wetland basins should be relatively shallow with gently sloping topographies, such that they support hydroperiods and water depths characteristic of natural wetlands to encourage colonization and growth of species that are representative of more natural conditions; 7) Intra-regional variations in physical and biological parameters should be considered when targeting, implementing, and managing wetland conservation practices.