, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 1131-1142
Date: 13 Sep 2011

Landscape Scale Modeling of the Potential Effect of Groundwater-level Declines on Forested Wetlands in the New Jersey Pinelands

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Abstract

The objective of the study, which is a component of a comprehensive evaluation of the hydrologic and ecological effects of groundwater pumping from the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer, was to apply empirically determined hydrology-vegetation models to develop geographic information system (GIS)-based landscape models for three study basins in the New Jersey Pinelands. The wetland- indicator modeling suggests that the area dominated by wetland species will decline in area with increased groundwater withdrawal due to the predicted drop in water table. While some patterns revealed in the results are reasonably consistent across basins, other changes are a function of the unique topographic form and hydrologic characteristics of a particular basin. The results suggest that cedar and hardwood swamps which are at the wetter end of the water table gradient will show the greatest percent declines in area. The landscape modeling suggests that at the higher levels of groundwater withdrawal the decline of wetland area will be especially severe in the upper headwaters of the basins, and that there will be ‘retreat’ of existing wetlands to a narrower streamside corridor. The landscape modeling also suggests that there will be a change in the broader landscape pattern with a simplification of the wetland mosaic with fewer patches.