Geographically Isolated Wetlands: Rethinking a Misnomer

Authors: D M Mushet; Aram JK Calhoun; Laurie C Alexander; M J Cohen; E S DeKeyser; Laurie A Fowler; C R Lane; M W Lang; M C Rains; Susan C Walls
Contribution Number: 506


We explore the category geographically isolated
wetlands(GIWs; i.e., wetlands completely surrounded by
uplands at the local scale) as used in the wetland sciences.
As currently used, the GIW category (1) hampers scientific
efforts by obscuring important hydrological and ecological
differences among multiple wetland functional types, (2)
aggregates wetlands in a manner not reflective of regulatory
and management information needs, (3) implies wetlands so
described are in some way isolated, an often incorrect
implication, (4) is inconsistent with more broadly used and
accepted concepts of geographic isolation, and (5) has
injected unnecessary confusion into scientific investigations
and discussions. Instead, we suggest other wetland classification
systems offer more informative alternatives. For
example, hydrogeomorphic (HGM) classes based on wellestablished
scientific definitions account for wetland functional
diversity thereby facilitating explorations into
questions of connectivity without an a priori designation of
isolation. Additionally, an HGM-type approach could be
used in combination with terms reflective of current regulatory
or policymaking needs. For those rare cases in which
the condition of being surrounded by uplands is the relevant
distinguishing characteristic, use of terminology that does
not unnecessarily imply isolation (e.g., upland embedded
wetlands) would help alleviate much confusion caused by
the geographically isolated wetlands misonomer.

Publication details
Published Date: 2015-01-27
Outlet/Publisher: Wetlands 35(3): 423-431.
Media Format:

ARMI Organizational Units:
Southeast - Biology
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