The relation between the occurrence of riverine wetlands in floodplains along a humid to semi-arid climatic continuum was studied in two regions. The first included 36 mid-reach streams from Colorado to Iowa, USA, a region with a broad range of PET ratios (potential evapotranspiration/precipitation) from 0.70 to 1.75. The second region included 16 headwater streams in eastern North Carolina with PET ratios ranging from 0.67 to 0.83. Wetland boundaries were identified in the field along transects perpendicular to the floodplain. The width of jurisdictional wetlands was compared with flood-prone width (FPW) and expressed as a percent. An increase in PET ratio corresponded to an exponential decrease in the percentage of the FPW that is wetland. Soil texture, duration of overbank flow, and stream order did not correlate with percentage of FPW that was wetland. Streams with a PET ratio greater than 0.98 did not have wetlands associated with them. Greater channel cross-sectional areas correlated positively with greater wetland widths in both study regions. Overbank flow did not appear to contribute to wetland prevalence. Supplemental ground-water sources, however, as indicated by greater base flows, could not be ruled out as sources contributing to wetland occurrence. ?? 2004, The Society of Wetland Scientists.
Additional publication details
Occurrence of riverine wetlands on floodplains along a climatic gradient