Wetlands on Clay Settling Areas
This project was a five-year study of wetlands on Clay Settling Areas (CSAs) aimed at developing an understanding of their ecology and hydrology to apply when restoring functional wetland systems. Characterization of wetlands naturally occurring on CSAs found that wetland plant communities were associated most strongly with hydrology. Properties of typical wetland soils were developing with time on studied CSAs, although these wetlands were unlike reference wetlands in species composition, bathymetry, or hydrology. Multi-year monitoring of hydrology and collection of climatic data in order to create water budgets found unexplained losses that were later accounted for primarily through evapotranspiration, secondarily through infiltration at some sites, and negligibly through dikes. Spatial and temporal models of water features were created that performed best when considering CSAs as multiple watersheds with unique runoff and groundwater interactions. Ecohydrology studies revealed high transpiration and deep rooting across the hydrologic gradient by Salix caroliniana and documented the relationship between water availability and water table depths in different CSA substrates. Monitoring of old and new field trials yielded lists of wetland species appropriate for introducing to CSAs as well as recommendations for establishment in relation to hydrologic and biotic factors. This research produced knowledge, tools, and guidelines which can be used for wetland establishment on CSAs.