Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:00 PM

TOWARD A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF HYDROLOGIC CONTROLS ON MOUNTAIN WETLANDS IN THE SOUTHERN APPALACHIANS


WILCOX, Jeffrey D.1, ALEXANDER, Mara L.2, DINSMORE, Scott L.1, SIMMS, Jonathan R.1 and TICKLE, China M.1, (1)University of North Carolina at Asheville, Department of Environmental Studies, One University Heights, CPO #2330, Asheville, NC 28804, (2)U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Asheville Ecological Services Field Office, 160 Zillicoa St, Asheville, NC 28801, jwilcox@unca.edu

Mountain wetlands in the southern Appalachians are most commonly found on relatively flat land at the base of a slope, on a floodplain, or both. Because they occur in headwater catchments, these wetlands are typically small, isolated, and extremely vulnerable to upslope development, agricultural fertilizers, stormwater runoff, and stream alteration. Mountain wetlands are home to several threatened and endangered species; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed the Mountain Bogs National Wildlife Refuge to protect the flora and fauna that thrive in these increasingly rare habitats.

There has been some historical debate as to whether southern Appalachian wetlands should be classified as fens or bogs. Initial observations at several sites suggest topographic depressions are fed by a combination of precipitation, groundwater discharge, and stormwater/stream surge. The ratio varies from site to site, and ongoing research is being conducted in an attempt to quantify the relative significance of each. This presentation will focus on three sites being considered for the wildlife refuge to illustrate how a better understanding of the hydrologic controls on mountain wetlands will be essential to effective management in the future.