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Effect of Land Use Intensity on the Ecological Condition of Floodplain Wetlands of the Bayou Meto Watershed, Arkansas

M. Benjamin Vivas 1, Mark T. Brown 1 and Elizabeth O. Murray 2

1 Center for Wetlands, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
2 Arkansas Multi-Agency Wetland Planning Team

The effect of the surrounding land use on the condition of floodplain forested wetlands in the Bayou Meto Watershed (BMW) in Arkansas was investigated as part of a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency to the Arkansas Soil and Water Conservation Commission, and implemented by the University of Florida’s Center for Wetlands. This study allowed testing a landscape procedure for the assessment of wetland ecologic condition using a modified version of the Landscape Development Intensity Index (LDI), which is a measure of human activity in the landscape originally proposed by Brown and Vivas (2005) 3.

Twenty-nine wetlands were selected a priori from within various landscape settings, providing a range of sites that represented a gradient from undeveloped to highly developed lands. LDI scores were calculated at four different spatial scales and correlated to three independent field measures of wetland condition: the Wetland Rapid Assessment Procedure (WRAP) 4, Hydrogeomorphic Functional Capacity Indices (HGM), and the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation’s Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM). Correlation between the LDI and the WRAP was highly significant, especially when the LDI was estimated for an area nearest the wetland study plots (Spearman’s r = -0.81). The strongest correlation between the LDI and the HGM was reported for the habitat index and also for the area nearest the study plots (Spearman’s r = -0.73). The UMAM had the weakest correlation with the LDI with similar results for all four scales considered (Spearman’s r = -0.50). The results of this investigation provide evidence of the validity and usefulness of the LDI as a landscape method for assessing wetland condition.

Keywords: wetlands, wetland condition, Landscape Development Intensity Index, land use

3 Brown, M. T. and M. B. Vivas. 2005. Landscape Development Intensity Index. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 101:289-309.

4 Miller, R. E., Jr. and B. E. Boyd. 1999. Wetland Rapid Assessment Procedure. South Florida Water Management District, Technical Publication REG-001. West Palm Beach, Florida.


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