Generating Nested Wetland Catchments with Readily-Available Digital Elevation Data May Improve Evaluations of Land-Use Change on Wetlands
The important ecosystem functions wetlands perform are influenced by land-use changes in their surrounding uplands and thus, identifying the upland area that flows into a wetland is important. We provide a method to define wetland catchments as the portion of the landscape that flows into a wetland; we allowed catchments to be nested and include other wetlands and their catchments, forming a hydrologic wetland complex. We generated catchments using multiple sources and resolutions of digital elevation data to evaluate whether catchment sizes generated from those data were similar. While non-contributing areas, or sinks, differed between elevation data sets, catchment areas were similar among high-resolution LiDAR- and IfSAR-derived data and readily available lower resolution data from the National Elevation Dataset. Accordingly, the higher-resolution DEM data, which may be expensive or not available, will not likely yield more accurate wetland catchment boundaries in flat or glaciated landscapes. We contend that this method to generate wetland catchments can be used to improve wetland studies where the location of a wetland within a catchment is important. Furthermore, the size of the catchment is important for understanding how wetlands respond to climate, land-use practices, and contamination.
KeywordsWatershed delineation Hydrological model DEM ArcHydro LiDAR IfSAR National elevation dataset
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