A PROPOSED WETLAND
30 MAY 1997
ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION
We would like to acknowledge the help and guidance given us by Mrs. Janet Stein-Carter
in writing, researching and presenting this document in web-site form. Her support was
appreciated and valued.
Ms. Dawn M. Colonel was responsible for writing the Introduction, Abstract, Summary,
and Conclusions. She also aided in the editing and typing of the paper.
Mr. Chad Kaylor was responsible for writing the Methods and Materials portion of the
paper. He also aided in the evaluation of the data gathered.
Ms. Chanda McGlaughn was responsible for writing the Literature Review, Bibliography,
and background research of the paper.
Ms. Erica Shutt was responsible for writing the Literature Review, Bibliography, and
background research of the paper.
Ms. Kristy M. Thacker was responsible for writing the Methods and Materials, Abstract,
Summary, and Conclusions. She was also involved in the editing and typing of the paper.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
i Title Page
iii Table of Contents
iv List of Tables and Figures
2 Literature Review
6 Methods and Materials
10 Data and Results
LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES
TABLES PAGE NUMBER
1. Mapping Data Table 6
2. Insects, Arthropods, and Other Invertebrates Data Table 6
3. Relative Densities of Shrubs Data Table 7
4. Relative Densities of Herbs Data Table 7
5. Soil Analysis Data Table 7,8
6. Random Tree Pairs Data Table 8,9
7. Random Tree Pairs Calculations Table 8,9
8. Environmental Factors Data Table 9
FIGURES PAGE NUMBER
1. Ravine Map 6
2. Random Tree Pairs Analysis Pie Chart 8,9
3. Light Intensity Bar Graph 9
4. Temperature Line Graph 9
5. Percent Humidity Bar Graph 9
6. Wind Velocity Line Graph 9
Colonel, Kaylor, McGlaughn, Shutt, Thacker 30 May 1997. A proposed wetland.
Mapping, surveying, soil analysis, random tree pairs analysis, and environmental
factors analysis, were all utilized in order to support the idea that the ravine area in the
southwestern part of campus be transformed into a wetland area. The results of the
techniques mentioned supported the claim that the diversity that a wetland would bring
forth, would far outweigh the loss of diversity in the current ravine. The presence of a
wetland on the Clermont College campus would provide educational and ecological
It has been proposed that the ravine found on the western side of the campus of Clermont College be transformed into a wetland area. Initially, this seems like a wonderful idea. The wetland area will increase the diversity of specimens found on the campus available for study by our Biology students, offering an unique educational opportunity. No one could argue that it wouldn't be an asset to the campus. It is however, important that the proposition be thoroughly studied and analyzed before the project be allowed to begin. The consequences of the proposed actions must be analyzed before the transformation is allowed to occur.
During the course of Spring quarter 1997, this research will begin. Through statistical analysis, mapping, soil and climate analysis, and surveying, a planned study of the area of land in and around the ravine will proceed in order to come to a better understanding of the land, its inhabitants, and the role it plays in the overall ecological mosaic of the campus at Clermont College.
By doing this research, the goal is not simply to undermine the proposed idea. It is to ensure that if the proposed plan is to take place, it will occur only after enough information is organized to predict any problems that may arise, and to determine the consequences of these actions. An informed, logical decision concerning this transformation must be made in order to insure that it is a successful venture. It is important that the area be analyzed in order to determine exactly what will be gained and lost if the land is permanently altered due to this proposition.
The National Research Council has defined a wetland as: "an ecosystem that depends on constant or recurrent shallow inundation or saturation at or near the surface of the substrate" (Selcraig 44-49). Wetlands are important in that they provide a place to live for over 5,000 species of plants, over 190 species of amphibians, and a third of all the bird species in the United States. Because wetlands have such dense vegetation, they are able to filter out many impurities and toxins in ground water. They also stabilize shorelines by storing and gradually releasing floodwaters from rivers and oceans. Unfortunately, the U.S. has lost over half of its wetland ecosystems since 1763 when the draining of the "Great Dismal Swamp of Virginia and North Carolina" took place.
The most important factor in a wetland ecosystem is water movement. There are four types of wetland ecosystems: swamps, bogs, prairie potholes, and estuaries. Swamps have a relatively constant water table that is either standing or gently moving. Per acre the biodiversity of a swamp is equal to that of a tropical rain forest. Red maples, cypress, and water-gum mark these wetlands. Bogs are damp, cool areas that accumulate dead plant material faster than it can decay. This produces a stagnant, acidic, nutrient-poor ecosystem filled with peat and sphagnum moss. Because of the decaying material bogs consume a very large amount of carbon dioxide even though they only cover about one percent of the earth's surface. Prairie potholes are freshwater marshes in the glacial basins of North America that provide food, rest, and breeding grounds to many migratorial birds. They support sedges, cattails, and hardy grasses. And estuaries are
inland marine or river waterways that are among the most naturally fertile habitats in the world.
Wetlands Mitigation Banking is a government policy that allows owners of property to "restore wetlands in order to offset an action that will destroy one" (Selcraig 46). Utility companies, loggers, and land developers are assigned a certain number of "credits" by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and are allowed to withdraw "debits" when a loss of wetland habitat is going to occur. These "debits" are then used to create a new wetland ecosystem. Biologists and conservationists question this policy and its effectiveness. Even with such good intentions, the created wetland ecosystem has poor nutrient quality and the existing bird habitats that were destroyed, take years to recover. It is also apparent that the vast biodiversity of the original ecosystem is lost.
Since the 1850's, the municipal sewage system in Arcata California has been flushing sewage into Humboldt Bay. The bay area consisted of a condemned land fill, three abandoned mills, and the only inhabitants were gulls and rats. Early environmental regulations in the 1970's ordered that waste water no longer be dumped there unless it "enhanced" the quality of the receiving water. So in 1971, George Allen of Humbolt University got together with city management to design an "aquaculture project that raises salmon in a mixture of bay water and treated sewage" (Levy 34). The project was so successful that other academics, environmentalists, and city officials set out to restore the wetland ecosystem of the Humboldt Bay area. Now, you can find fresh water wetlands that support fish, frogs, and over two-hundred species of waterfowl. The project is so successful because the treated waste water provides nutrients for the
wetlands while the plants and microorganisms there filter and purify the water before it reaches the bay. It has also become a haven for wintering Bald Eagles. Scientists and engineers from around the world are studying this working model of wastewater recycling and wetland restoration.
Today in the United States only half of the original wetlands remain (about one-hundred million acres)(Wetlands). The decrease of the original wetlands is due in part to man's activities. Most of the remaining wetlands are located in the southern United States. Ohio along with six other states have lost at least eighty percent of their original wetlands. Today many states are trying to reconstruct wetlands because of the important role they play in habitat and biodiversity (Loss of Wetlands in the U.S.).
Wetlands serve diverse purposes and help to support and maintain many species of organisms. These unique ecosystems serve as water filters by trapping pollutants and as water retainers, holding water back to prevent flooding. Many plants and animals depend on wetlands for food and shelter (Wetlands Ecology).
Certain plants indicate that a wetland is present. For example cattails, sedges, rushes, and water plankton grow in these areas. There are approximately five-thousand different species of plants that have been found to reside in wetland areas.
In constructing artificial wetlands, scientists first designate an are for transformation. They are asked to survey the area for the presence of hydrophytic vegetation, hydric soil, and wetland hydrology. They are also asked to produce a detailed description of the study site, including a map indicating the location, the soil types, and the predominant vegetative species encountered (Vegetation Indicators of Wetlands).
The experimental information presented from the Humboldt experiment clearly demonstrates the
possible benefits of the presence and maintenance of a wetland area. Also, it is evident from the
information gathered concerning the construction of artificial wetlands, that the transformation of
underutilized or currently unused land into wetland areas not only increases the biodiversity of the area,
but also improves the ecological quality of the area surrounding the wetland.
METHODS AND MATERIALS
While researching the pros and cons of a wetland at Clermont College, five techniques were utilized. The first was an exercise in mapping. Several materials were needed in order to map the relevant region. A magnetic compass, metric measuring tape, orange flags, and a scientific calculator with trigonometric functions were all used. The first step was to place the flags at the site to be mapped. The creek was broken into a series of linear segments using flags to mark each segment. The distances among each of the flags was then determined using the metric measuring tape. Then, using the magnetic compass, the azimuth of each flag in relation to its subsequent flag down the path of the creek was determined. The azimuth was read from both directions in order to increase the accuracy of the readings. The width of the creek from bank to bank at each flag was also recorded in meters. All of these measurements allowed a fairly accurate map to be comprised. (see map)
The next technique utilized was the surveying of the flora and fauna in the area. Orange marking flags and metric measuring tapes were used during this exercise. Various field guides were also very useful in the identification of the various specimens encountered. The recording of specimens was divided into two categories; invertebrates and plants. The beginning and ending times of the surveys at each site were recorded in order to calculate the sum of the specimens seen and the number of organisms seen per hour in each plot.
The various shrubs and herbaceous plants were then surveyed and identified. In order to plot the shrubs in the various plots, a sixteen square meter plot was sectioned off using orange flag markers. Trees, woody shrubs, saplings, and vines were identified and recorded. The herbaceous plants were surveyed by using a one square meter plot marked off by orange flag markers. All of the herbaceous type plants were identified and recorded. The data was then collected and organized in a table format. (see data table)
The next technique utilized in this research was soil analysis. Five soil samples were collected from five different areas located near or within the parameters of the proposed wetland area. The soil was allowed to dry for approximately one week in preparation of the testing done.
There were three types of testing performed. The first was a mechanical evaluation of the soil. A fifty gram portion of each of the five samples was collected and pulverized using a mortar and pestle. The samples were each then transferred to one liter beakers to which five grams of Calgon water softener were added. The samples were then q.s. to nine hundred milliliters. The samples were each stirred for approximately fifteen minutes using a magnetic stirring apparatus. The "muddy" clay suspensions were continuously decanted from each beaker, and the beakers rinsed. The soil was then heated on a hot block in order to cause the water to evaporate until the soil was completely dry and sand-like. This material was then weighed and sieved in a sieve set.
This data was then used in order to determine the percentage that each granule size within the soil represented. (see data table )
Subjective analysis was used to determine the general qualities of the soil samples. A small amount of each soil was moistened in the palm of the hand and kneed to form a small ribbon. This "ribbon of soil" was then examined. If the ribbon formed easily, the soil was determined to be forty percent or more clay. If it formed but crumbled easily, soil was considered to be approximately twenty-seven to forty percent clay. And finally, if the ribbon did not form at all, the soil contained twenty-seven percent or less clay.
The final test performed was one in which the chemical contents of the soil were determined. A Sudbury Soil Test Kit was used to test for the presence of potassium, phosphorus, nitrogen, and to determine the pH levels of the soil samples. For the exact instructions, please see the insert provided in the Sudbury Soil Test Kit.
The next technique utilized was the analysis of random pairs of trees. A tree tape, a field guide to identify the trees, and a metric measuring tape were used. A predetermined distance was chosen (ten steps in this case) and the nearest tree with a diameter of at least four inches was identified and its diameter determined. A one-hundred eighty degree turn from that tree was then taken and a second tree greater than four inches in diameter was then chosen, identified, and measured. The distance between each pair was determined. This process was repeated until forty pairs of trees were identified, and measured. All tree measurements were taken at breast height. This data was then organized into a data table in order to determine the density and composition of the area analyzed.
The final technique used in this research was the investigation of the various environmental factors found in the proposed wetland area. A light meter, sling psychrometer, squeeze-bottle of water, soil thermometer, and a wind speed meter were used to determine the intensity of light, humidity, soil temperature, and wind patterns of the ravine area being analyzed. Readings from the equipment were performed, and the data was collected and gathered into tabular and graphical form in order to demonstrate the various environmental factors present in the area of study.
DATA AND RESULTS
The raw data from the mapping technique mentioned earlier was interpreted in order to create an accurate map of the ravine area. This map gives a clear and concise indication of exactly which area is to be transformed into a wetland (please see Ravine Map, figure 1).
The relative densities of the shrub plots and herb plots, and all relevant analysis of the raw data is given in the accompanying tables ( please see tables 1-8, and figures 1-6).
After evaluating the data gathered in mapping, surveying, soil analysis, random tree pairs analysis, and environmental factors analysis of the ravine area on Clermont College's campus, it is evident that the transformation of this land into a wetland would be a positive move. It would be an educational and environmental enhancement to both the college and its community.
The data demonstrates that the diversity of life present in the ravine area shares similarities to other ecosystems found on the college's property. It would therefore, not be a devastating loss to transform this area. The campus would still retain similar ecosystems and communities to that of the ravine area's.
Also, with the addition of a wetland, a huge variety of new organisms would be introduced to the campus's present community. These organisms would provide more diverse experiences for students and faculty, thus educating larger populations about the importance of wetlands in the maintenance of natural habitats.
In conclusion, the transformation of the ravine area into a wetland would be beneficial to
students, faculty, community, and most importantly the delicate environment.
Carter, Janet Stein. 1997. Ecology and Evolution Protocols.
Levy, Sharron. 1996. "Conservation Hotline: From Effluents to Egrets." Wildlife Conservation. 34.
Loss of Wetlands in the U.S. http://www.gsa.gov/pbs/py/call-in/factshet/1296/12_96_13.htm.
Selcraig, Bruce. 1996. "What is a Wetland?". Sierra Magazine. 44-49.
Vegetation Indicators of Wetlands. http://www.gsa.gov/pbs/pt/callin/factshet/1296/12_96_5.htm.
Wetlands Ecology. http://www.gsa.gov/pbs/pt/call-in/factshet/1296/12_96_11.htm.