Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2020KY052B

A Comparison of Sedimentation Rates and Hydrological Regimes in Floodplain Wetland Easements and Natural Bottomland Forested Wetlands of Western Kentucky

Institute: Kentucky
Year Established: 2020 Start Date: 2020-03-01 End Date: 2021-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $5,711 Total Non-Federal Funds: $11,555

Principal Investigators: Jessica B. Moon

Abstract: Although small in area, floodplain wetlands provide a disproportionate share of valuable ecological functions to the broader landscape and hydroscape. Due to their geographic position between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and periodic fluvial disturbances they act as sinks for sediment, transformers of inorganic nutrients, and sources of slow-release water and organic material to aquatic systems during flooding events. For these and other ecosystem services (e.g., increasing biodiversity), the United States Department of Agriculture, has established a Kentucky Wetland Reserve Program; lands in western Kentucky are being placed into easements and restored to floodplain wetland features, in part, to help minimize downstream effects in the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico. The objective of this study is to compare the services provided by the WRP wetlands (> 15 years old wetlands and 5 to 10 years old wetlands) to reference standard forested wetlands in the area. Most specifically we will (1) look for differences in sedimentation rates, and (2) identify the possible causes of those differences, such as hydrologic regime shifts and vegetative structural differences. This project is the first step towards the long-term goal of understanding the regional impacts of wetland restoration efforts in the Mississippi River Basin. Further, future work will evaluate the effect of differences in sedimentation rates on other ecosystem services these systems are expected to support (e.g., carbon storage, nitrogen removal, phosphorus retention).