Geographically isolated wetlands: Rethinking a misnomer

Wetlands
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Abstract

We explore the category “geographically isolated wetlands” (GIWs; i.e., wetlands completely surrounded by uplands at the local scale) as used in the wetland sciences. As currently used, the GIW category (1) hampers scientific efforts by obscuring important hydrological and ecological differences among multiple wetland functional types, (2) aggregates wetlands in a manner not reflective of regulatory and management information needs, (3) implies wetlands so described are in some way “isolated,” an often incorrect implication, (4) is inconsistent with more broadly used and accepted concepts of “geographic isolation,” and (5) has injected unnecessary confusion into scientific investigations and discussions. Instead, we suggest other wetland classification systems offer more informative alternatives. For example, hydrogeomorphic (HGM) classes based on well-established scientific definitions account for wetland functional diversity thereby facilitating explorations into questions of connectivity without an a priori designation of “isolation.” Additionally, an HGM-type approach could be used in combination with terms reflective of current regulatory or policymaking needs. For those rare cases in which the condition of being surrounded by uplands is the relevant distinguishing characteristic, use of terminology that does not unnecessarily imply isolation (e.g., “upland embedded wetlands”) would help alleviate much confusion caused by the “geographically isolated wetlands” misnomer.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Geographically isolated wetlands: Rethinking a misnomer
Series title Wetlands
DOI 10.1007/s13157-015-0631-9
Volume 35
Issue 3
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Description 9 p.
First page 423
Last page 431
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N