Forest Loss Threatens Unique Wetlands

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Some of the most important wetlands in the southeastern U.S. have experienced decades of degradation and now face an uncertain future. In a new study published in the journal Wetlands, ecologists at the University of the South show how an extensive network of small forested wetlands on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia are being threatened by loss of forest habitat.

 

These wetlands, called vernal pools, act as distinct aquatic “islands” of biodiversity scattered across the region’s uplands.

The wetlands are irreplaceable habitat for amphibians, birds, and rare plants. Amphibians such as salamanders depend on these pools to breed. Migrant birds use the wetlands as feeding stations to fuel their journeys. Rare plants live nowhere but the wet soils around the pools. When development or logging removes forest from around the pools, this biodiversity declines and disappears. Vernal pools are therefore considered vital “hotspots” of biodiversity.

 

Lead researcher Jon Evans and his colleagues used a computer analysis of aerial photographs to map almost 2,400 pools in the three-state study area. The authors found that only 7 percent of these pools were located on protected lands such as state parks. Forest cover around the pools steadily dropped between 1981 and 2010: the number of fully forested pools declined by more than one third, and the number of pools that had little or no forest around them increased by nearly four times.

 

“These tear-drop shaped pools are a vital part of the rich, natural tapestry of the Cumberland Plateau landscape,” Mr. Evans said. “Hopefully, our study will now generate awareness of their existence and provide a scientific basis to guide their conservation in the future.”

 

“This research helps to fill an important gap in our understanding of isolated wetlands at a critical juncture for the Clean Water Act,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Right now, the EPA is developing policies to decide which wetlands should receive federal protections, and this research shows just how vital these wetlands are, both to biodiversity and to the maintenance of water quality in this region.”  

 

“The study directly supports the state’s mission to prevent the degradation of its diverse wetlands,” said Caitlin Elam, environmental scientist with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “It allows a more thorough understanding of the current threats to vernal pool wetlands, and it facilitates the location and identification of these valuable wetland resources, resulting in more protective land-use planning and regulatory oversight for these unique waters, before they are lost.”

 

See the full study here: http://rdcu.be/va7d.



Get The Skinny On Watts Bar Weeds

Social media is a buzz about Watts Bar weeds. So we asked our TVA aquatic plant expert Dr. Brett Hartis – What exactly is going on with Watts Bar Weeds? It seems like there are a lot of theories about what’s going on with aquatic plants this year on Watts Bar Lake. We’ve heard everything from high water flows, commercial plant management companies killing weeds lake-wide, property ... (click for more)

Bat Blitz Set For July In Sewanee

Education is the key to understanding an issue and the Southeastern Bat Diversity Network hopes to allow the public a peek into the important research focusing on bats during the first day of a week-long Bat Blitz. On  Monday, July 23,  the general public is invited to come out and gain a better understanding of what bat biologists do through the course of their duties. ... (click for more)

State Democrats Refile Suit In Hamilton County Seeking To Keep Robin Smith Off The Ballot; Election Commission Calls Emergency Meeting

The Tennessee Democratic Party has refiled a lawsuit seeking to keep former state GOP Chairman Robin Smith off the ballot in the Aug. 2 primary ballot. In response, the Election Commission has called an emergency meeting for Monday at 9 a.m. The case has been assigned to Chancellor Pam Fleenor. State Democrats are asking for an expedited hearing. Ms. Smith was ... (click for more)

Senator Corker Calls Judge Kavanaugh "A Superb Nominee"

 Senator Bob Corker on Thursday called Judge Brett Kavanaugh "a superb nominee" for the U.S. Supreme Court.   He made the statement after meeting with President Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.   Senator Corker said, “I had a great meeting today with Judge Kavanaugh and think he is a superb nominee. It is inspiring to me to see ... (click for more)

Employee Who Stole From East Ridge Should Be Prosecuted

Why has the East Ridge employee who was fired for theft not been charged with theft?    City Manager Scott Miller made the statement that the employee had problems and that the stolen items were returned.  What does that have to do with the employee stealing ?   He has had a history of abuse of city resources. Why is he not being prosecuted? ... (click for more)

Am I Alone? - And Response (5)

Am I alone seems to be quite apt as I begin to form sentences, thoughts and concerns regarding the state of this country. I feel like I am alone trying, somehow, to justify Trump and understand why he is constantly in the middle of chaos.  Now coined as the Liar-in-Chief, Chief Foreign Affairs Coordinator acting for his pal Russian Dictator, Putin.  The silence ... (click for more)