, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 489–500 | Cite as

Development of Vegetation Models to Predict the Potential Effect of Groundwater Withdrawals on Forested Wetlands

  • Kim J. LaidigEmail author
  • Robert A. Zampella
  • Allison M. Brown
  • Nicholas A. Procopio
Original Paper


We developed vegetation models that, when linked to groundwater-hydrology models and landscape-level applications, can be used to predict the potential effect of groundwater-level declines on the distribution of wetland-forest communities, individual wetland species, and wetland-indicator groups. An upland-to-wetland vegetation gradient, comprising 201 forest plots located in five different study basins and classified as either upland pine-oak, pitch pine lowland, pine-hardwood lowland, hardwood swamp, or cedar swamp, paralleled variations in water-level. Water levels, woody-species composition, the percentage of wetland- and upland-indicator species, and soil properties varied among the five vegetation types. Because of the functional relationship of hydrology with its correlated soil variables, hydrology represented a good proxy for the complex hydrologic-edaphic gradient associated with the upland-to-wetland vegetation gradient. Two types of vegetation models were developed to predict potential changes in vegetation associated with water-level declines. Logistic regression models predicted the probability of encountering the different vegetation types and 29 community-indicator species in relation to water level. Simple regression models predicted the relative abundance and richness of wetland-and upland-indicator species as a function of water level.


Groundwater-level declines Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer New Jersey Pinelands Wetland hydrology 



We thank Robin Van Meter, Jennifer Ciraolo, Cathy Brown, and Kimberly Spiegel for assistance with data collection, and John Bunnell and three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments that improved the paper. Funding for this study was provided through the Water Supply Bond in accordance with New Jersey Public Law 2001, Chapter 165. This paper is based on a report that was prepared for the Pinelands Commission.


  1. Auble GT, Friedman JM, Scott ML (1994) Relating riparian vegetation to present and future streamflows. Ecological Applications 4:544–554CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bledsoe BP, Shear TH (2000) Vegetation along hydrologic and edaphic gradients in a North Carolina coastal plain creek bottom and implications for restoration. Wetlands 20:126–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Buell MF, Cantlon JE (1953) Effects of prescribed burning on ground cover in the New Jersey pine region. Ecology 34:520–528CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chapin DM, Beschta RL, Shen HW (2002) Relationships between flood frequencies and riparian plant communities in the upper Klamath Basin, Oregon. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 38:603–617CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dufrêne M, Legendre P (1997) Species assemblages and indicator species: the need for a flexible asymmetrical approach. Ecological Monographs 67:345–366Google Scholar
  6. Ehrenfeld JG (1983) The effects of changes in land-use on swamps of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Biological Conservation 25:353–375CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ehrenfeld JG, Gulick M (1981) Structure and dynamics of hardwood swamps in the New Jersey Pine Barrens: contrasting patterns in trees and shrubs. American Journal of Botany 68:471–481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ehrenfeld JG, Schneider JP (1991) Chamaecyparis thyoides wetlands and suburbanization: effects on hydrology, water quality and plant community composition. Journal of Applied Ecology 28:467–490CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ehrenfeld JG, Schneider JP (1993) Responses of forested wetland vegetation to perturbations of water chemistry and hydrology. Wetlands 13:122–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ellison AM, Bedford BL (1995) Response of a wetland vascular plant community to disturbance: a simulation study. Ecological Applications 5:109–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Faulkner SP, Patrick WH, Gambrell RP (1989) Field techniques for measuring wetland soil parameters. Soil Science Society of America Journal 53:883–890CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Forman RTT, Boerner RE (1981) Fire frequency and the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 108:34–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Franz EH, Bazzaz FA (1977) Simulation of vegetation response to modified hydrologic regimes: a probabilistic model based on niche differentiation in a floodplain forest. Ecology 58:176–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gleason HA, Cronquist A (1991) Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  15. Harshberger JW (1916) The vegetation of the New Jersey Pine Barrens: an ecological investigation. Christopher Sower, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  16. Hill MO (1979a) DECORANA-A FORTRAN Program for detrended correspondence analysis and reciprocal averaging. Cornell University, IthacaGoogle Scholar
  17. Hill MO (1979b) TWINSPAN-A FORTRAN Program for arranging multivariate data in an ordered two-way table by classification of individuals and attributes. Cornell University, IthacaGoogle Scholar
  18. Hill MO, Gauch HG Jr (1980) Detrended correspondence analysis: an improved ordination technique. Vegetatio 42:47–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hoffman JL (2001) NJDEP average water withdrawals in 1999 by HUC14 watershed (DBF). New Jersey Geological Digital Geodata Series DGS01-2.
  20. Jongman RHG, ter Braak CJF, van Tongeren OFR (1995) Data analysis in community and landscape ecology. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Laidig KJ, Zampella RA (1999) Community attributes of Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) swamps in disturbed and undisturbed Pinelands watersheds. Wetlands 19:35–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lang SM, Rhodehamel EC (1963) Aquifer test at a site on the Mullica River in the Wharton Tract, southern New Jersey. Bulletin of the International Association of Scientific Hydrology 8:31–38Google Scholar
  23. Laycock WA (1967) Distribution of roots and rhizomes in different soil types in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper No. 563-CGoogle Scholar
  24. Little S (1950) Ecology and silviculture of white cedar and associated hardwoods in southern New Jersey. Yale University School of Forestry Bulletin 56:1–103Google Scholar
  25. Little S (1979) Fire and plant succession in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. In: Forman RTT (ed) Pine Barrens: ecosystem and landscape. Academic, New York, pp 297–314Google Scholar
  26. Marks PL, Harcombe PA (1981) Forest vegetation of the big thicket, southeast Texas. Ecological Monographs 51:287–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Matlack GR, Gibson DJ, Good RE (1993a) Clonal propagation, local disturbance, and the structure of vegetation: ericaceous shrubs in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Biological Conservation 63:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Matlack GR, Gibson DJ, Good RE (1993b) Regeneration of the shrub Gaylussacia baccata and associated species after low intensity fire in an Atlantic coastal plain forest. American Journal of Botany 80:119–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McCune B, Grace JB (2002) Analysis of ecological communities. MjM Software Design, Gleneden BeachGoogle Scholar
  30. McCune B, Mefford MJ (1999) PC-ORD. Multivariate analysis of ecological data, Version 4. MjM Software Design, Gleneden BeachGoogle Scholar
  31. McHorney C, Neill C (2007) Alteration of water levels in a Massachusetts coastal plain pond subject to municipal ground-water withdrawals. Wetlands 27:366–380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mitsch WJ, Gosselink JG (2000) Wetlands, 3rd edn. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  33. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (2007) New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection land use/land cover update. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Information Resource Management, Bureau of Geographic Information Systems, Trenton, NJ, USAGoogle Scholar
  34. Pinelands Commission (2003) The Kirkwood-Cohansey project work plan. Pinelands Commission, New Lisbon, NJ.
  35. Rains MC, Mount JF, Larsen EW (2004) Simulated changes in shallow groundwater and vegetation distributions under different reservoir operations scenarios. Ecological Applications 14:192–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Reiners WA (1965) Ecology of a heath-shrub synusia in the pine barrens of Long Island, New York. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 92:448–464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rhodehamel EC (1979a) Geology of the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. In: Forman RTT (ed) Pine Barrens: ecosystem and landscape. Academic, New York, pp 39–60Google Scholar
  38. Rhodehamel EC (1979b) Hydrology of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. In: Forman RTT (ed) Pine Barrens: ecosystem and landscape. Academic, New York, pp 147–167Google Scholar
  39. Rice WR (1989) Analyzing tables of statistical tests. Evolution 43:223–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Roman CT, Zampella RA, Jaworski AZ (1985) Wetland boundaries in the New Jersey Pinelands: ecological relationships and delineation. Water Resources Bulletin 21:1005–1012Google Scholar
  41. Siegel S, Castellan NJ Jr (1988) Nonparametric statistics for the behavioral sciences, 2nd edn. McGraw-Hill Book Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  42. Storer DA (1984) A simple high sample volume ashing procedure for determining soil organic matter. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis 15:759–772CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Stromberg JC, Tiller R, Richter B (1996) Effects of groundwater decline on riparian vegetation of semi-arid regions: the San Pedro, Arizona. Ecological Applications 6:113–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Thien TJ (1979) A flow diagram for teaching texture by feel analysis. Journal of Agronomic Education 8:54–55Google Scholar
  45. Toner M, Keddy P (1997) River hydrology and riparian wetlands: a predictive model for ecological assembly. Ecological Applications 7:236–246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1988) National list of vascular plant species that occur in wetlands. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Biological Report 88 (26.9)Google Scholar
  47. Veblen TT (1992) Regeneration dynamics. In: Glenn-Lewin DC, Peet RK, Veblen TT (eds) Plant succession: theory and prediction. Chapman and Hall, London, pp 152–187Google Scholar
  48. Walker RL, Reilly PA, Watson KM (2008) Hydrogeologic framework in three drainage basins in the New Jersey Pinelands, 2004–06: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2008–5061Google Scholar
  49. Whittaker RH (1975) Communities and ecosystems, 2nd edn. Macmillan Co, Inc, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  50. Whittaker RH (1979) Vegetational relationships of the Pine Barrens. In: Forman RTT (ed) Pine Barrens: ecosystem and landscape. Academic, New York, pp 315–331Google Scholar
  51. Winter TC (1988) A conceptual framework for assessing cumulative impacts on the hydrology of nontidal wetlands. Environmental Management 12:605–620CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Yu S, Ehrenfeld JG (2009) Relationships among plants, soils and microbial communities along a hydrological gradient in the New Jersey Pinelands, USA. Annals of Botany 105:185–196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Zampella RA (1994) Morphologic and color pattern indicators of water table levels in sandy pinelands soils. Soil Science 157:312–317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Zampella RA, Lathrop RG (1997) Landscape changes in Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) wetlands of the New Jersey Pinelands. Landscape Ecology 12:397–408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Zampella RA, Moore G, Good RE (1992) Gradient analysis of pitch pine (P. rigida Mill.) lowland communities in the New Jersey Pinelands. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 119:253–261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Zampella RA, Bunnell JF, Laidig KJ, Dow CL (2001a) The Mullica River Basin: a report to the Pinelands Commission on the status of the landscape and selected aquatic and wetland resources. Pinelands Commission, New LisbonGoogle Scholar
  57. Zampella RA, Dow CL, Bunnell JF (2001b) Using reference sites and simple linear regression to estimate long-term water levels in coastal plain forests. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 37:1189–1201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Zapecza OS (1989) Hydrogeologic framework of the New Jersey Coastal Plain. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1404-BGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kim J. Laidig
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert A. Zampella
    • 1
  • Allison M. Brown
    • 1
  • Nicholas A. Procopio
    • 1
  1. 1.Pinelands CommissionNew LisbonUSA

Personalised recommendations