, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 206-218
Date: 16 Jun 2007

Evaluation of Florida Palustrine Wetlands: Application of USEPA Levels 1, 2, and 3 Assessment Methods

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Three categories of wetland assessment methods have been recognized by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, including Level 1—Landscape-scale Assessment; Level 2—Rapid Field Methods; and Level 3—Intensive Biological and Physico–Chemical Measures. This study incorporates wetland assessment methods for each assessment level, including the Level 1 Landscape Development Intensity (LDI) index, Level 2 Wetland Rapid Assessment Procedure (WRAP), and Level 3 Florida Wetland Condition Index (FWCI). Using a neighborhood analysis in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), an LDI index map was created using 1995 land use, creating a calculated LDI index value for each 30 m2 area in Florida. Level 1–3 assessment procedures were employed at 193 palustrine emergent (n = 75) and forested (n = 118) wetlands. Significant correlations were found among the multiple Level 1–3 assessment procedures using the nonparametric Spearman’s correlation coefficient for pair-wise comparisons of LDI and WRAP, LDI and diatom FWCI, WRAP and diatom FWCI, LDI and macrophyte FWCI, WRAP and macrophyte FWCI, LDI and macroinvertebrate FWCI, and WRAP and macroinvertebrate FWCI (|r| > 0.50, P < 0.01). Defining the relationship between Level 1–3 assessment methods may be used to estimate the more intensive and species assemblage-specific Level 3 FWCI assessment scores for wetlands with Level 1 or Level 2 scores. Inferences can then be made as to wetland condition based on established correlations with intensive assessment methods.