Many isolated wetlands in central Florida occur as small, shallow depressions scattered throughout the karst topography of the region. In these wetlands, the water table approaches land surface seasonally, and water levels and flooding frequency are largely determined by differences between precipitation and evapotranspiration. Because much of the region is flat with little topographic relief, small changes in wetland water levels can cause large changes in wetland surface area. Persistent changes in wetland flooding frequencies, as a result of changes in rainfall or human activity, can cause a substantial change in the vegetation of thousands of acres of land. Understanding the effect that flooding frequency has on wetland vegetation is important to assessing the overall ecological status of wetlands. Wetland bathymetric mapping, when combined with water-level data and vegetation assessments, can enable scientists to determine the frequency of flooding at different elevations in a wetland and describe the effects of flooding frequency on wetland vegetation at those elevations.
Five cypress swamps and five marshes were studied by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) during 2000-2004, as part of an interdisciplinary study of isolated wetlands in central Florida (Haag and others, 2005). Partial results from two of these marshes are described in this report.
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USGS Numbered Series
Flooding Frequency Alters Vegetation in Isolated Wetlands