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Identifying Small Depressional Wetlands and Using a Topographic Position Index to Infer Hydroperiod Regimes for Pond-Breeding Amphibians

Riley, Jeffrey W., Calhoun, Daniel L., Barichivich, William J., Walls, Susan C.
Wetlands 2017 v.37 no.2 pp. 325-338
amphibians, biodiversity, freshwater, habitats, landscapes, ponds, seasonal wetlands, terraces, topography
Small, seasonal pools and temporary ponds (<4.0 ha) are the most numerous and biologically diverse wetlands in many natural landscapes. Thus, accurate determination of their numbers and spatial characteristics is beneficial for conservation and management of biodiversity associated with these freshwater systems. We examined the utility of a topographic position index (TPI) landscape classification to identify and classify depressional wetlands. We also assessed relationships between topographic characteristics and ponded duration of known wetlands to allow hydrological characteristics to be extended to non-monitored locations in similar landscapes. Our results indicate that this approach was successful at identifying wetlands, but did have higher errors of commission (10%) than omission (5%). Additionally, the TPI procedure provided a reasonable means to correlate general ponded duration characteristics (long/short) with wetland topography. Although results varied by hydrologic class, permanent/long ponded duration wetlands were more often classified correctly (80%) than were short ponded duration wetlands (67%). However, classification results were improved to 100 and 75% for permanent/long and short ponded duration wetlands, respectively, by removing wetlands occurring on an abrupt marine terrace that erroneously inflated pond topographic characteristics. Our study presents an approach for evaluating wetland suitability for species or guilds that are associated with key habitat characteristics, such as hydroperiod.