Patterns of wetland hydrology in the Ridge and Valley province, Pennsylvania, USA
Developing an understanding of wetland hydrology that is free from site-specific constraints is difficult. Many hydrologic studies are focused upon a single site and the development of water-budget components. Our previous research (Cole et al. 1997) examined the hydrology of several wetlands based upon monthly sampling during the growing season. Those data did not provide adequate information on moisture regimes and did not tell us enough about year-round hydrodynamics. Our new objective was to expand hydrologic analyses to a larger proportion of our reference wetlands and extend them over a longer period of time. We continued to organize our wetlands and our analyses around hydrogeomorphic (HGM) principles. We found ground-water-dominated wetlands (riparian depressions and slopes) to be the wettest sites. Surface-water systems (headwater and mainstem floodplain wetlands) were drier. We found little difference between slopes and the floodplain wetlands in the amount of time water was within the root zone. Riparian depressions were wetter longer, as the average duration of water within the root zone was almost a year for riparian depressions and much less for all other wetland types. Disturbance seemed to play a large role in hydrologic behavior, even more than did HGM classification. We believe that knowledge of HGM subelass might serve as a useful surrogate for actual knowledge of site-specific hydrology. The level of uncertainty increases with surface-water systems, but we have shown a large degree of predictability by HGM subelass. Our data likely have applicability within the entire Ridge and Valley province of the Appalachian Mountains in the United States, although our conclusions have not been tested over that wide latitudinal range.
Key WordsHGM headwater floodplain hydrology hydrodynamies mainstem floodplain Pennsylvania Ridge and Valley riparian depression slope wetland
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