Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2019OH213B

Linking wetland ecological functions: towards a combined-ecosystem service quantification to promote ecosystem health in Lake Erie

Institute: Ohio
Year Established: 2019 Start Date: 2019-06-18 End Date: 2020-06-17
Total Federal Funds: $39,710 Total Non-Federal Funds: $45,282

Principal Investigators: Jorge A. Villa

Abstract: Integrating wetland ecosystem services into coastal resource and land use decisions is a powerful tool to promote ecosystem health through political and community stewardship in wetlands conservation, and as a mean to build socio-ecological resilience to land-use and climate changes through the ecosystem-based management of the associated watersheds. Persistent episodes of algal blooms in Lake Erie, which drastically reduce habitat quality and threatens human health, make understanding and quantifying coastal wetland services especially timely. However, regulating and supporting functions in Lake Erie’s coastal wetlands derived from nutrient cycling, and their interactions with the river, wetland and lake hydrology are poorly understood, limiting holistic assessments of the ecosystem services offered by coastal areas. Aiming to understand better these services in Lake Erie’s coastal wetlands, the objectives of this project are to: (1) Determine recent accumulation rates of sediment-associated P, N, and C along a microtopographic and nutrient concentration gradient. (2) Examine the relationships between nutrient (P, N, and C) accumulation rates, nutrient inputs from the surrounding watershed and hydrologic conditions along the estuary. (3) Estimate an annual mass budget for C on the estuary that accounts for aqueous and atmospheric inflows and outflows. (4) Evaluate a hydrological model that can predict residence time and empirically relate to nutrient retention rates. This study will combine measurements of P, N, and C in soil and water, observations of C fluxes, and hydrologic modeling, at different spatiotemporal scales. The data collected as part of this project, and the results of their analysis are expected to provide researchers and resource managers around Lake Erie, and similar regions with important baseline information and modeling tools to support wetland restoration and design that incorporates holistic valuation of ecosystem services provided by coastal wetlands.