Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2013NJ342B

Implications of historical and modern land use: urban wetland vegetation as indicators of temporal and spatial environmental heterogeneity and disturbance

Institute: New Jersey
Year Established: 2013 Start Date: 2013-03-01 End Date: 2014-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $10,001

Principal Investigators: Laura Shappell, Lena Struwe

Abstract: Wetland system structure and function is determined largely by local hydrology and landscape setting. However, land use legacies are pervasive in New Jersey headwater wetlands, whereby altering ecosystem services, such as floodwater storage. Vegetation structure and invasive species dominance is reflective of these modern and historic anthropogenic disturbances. Spatiotemporal models linking species distribution and biophysical features are crucial for understanding the dynamics of ecosystem structure and function. This research builds upon vegetation structure, floral diversity and invasive species dominance surveys I have conducted in six urban wetland fragments, located within Middlesex and Union counties. My proposed research will complete my ongoing dataset and result in a predictive process model for the complex relationship among hydrology, anthropogenic disturbances, and expressed vegetation community. Additional climate and geophysical landscape data have been incorporated using a geographical information system (GIS). Using Bayesian statistical methods, I will evaluate abiotic traits (e.g., hydrology) and geographic spatial data to examine potential mechanisms behind invasive dominance and floral diversity in urban headwater wetland swamps. Interdisciplinary collaboration for my preliminary dissertation research has highlighted the need for locally dependent wetland flood and invasive species management. These data also are relevant to understanding West Nile Virus host and vector abundance, within and adjacent to urban wetlands. This study will address the need for innovative and holistic management measures for wetland structure and function in an urban watershed.