, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 21–33 | Cite as

Climate Change Effects on Hydrology and Ecology of Wetlands in the Mid-Atlantic Highlands

  • Jonathan L. Pitchford
  • Chenjie Wu
  • LianShin Lin
  • J. Todd Petty
  • Richard Thomas
  • Walter E. VeselkaIV
  • Danny Welsch
  • Nicolas Zegre
  • James T. Anderson
SWS Wildlife


Global climate change has received increased attention in the Mid-Atlantic Highlands (MAH) Region of the United States in recent years. Several climate models predict increases in mean temperature of 1–5°C over the next one hundred years for the region, which has considerable implications for wetland ecosystems already encumbered by numerous anthropogenic stressors; however, historical (i.e., 1890s–current) data from the MAH presented here show increasing trends in precipitation intensity and decreasing trends in temperature. Continuation of historical trends for the next 90 years are used to predict potential impacts on regional wetland extent and function using empirical and conceptual models. Recommendations for management of climate related impacts on wetlands include analysis of historical climate trends at regional and local scales, establishment of wetland monitoring networks to quantify impacts of climate induced stress on wetland ecosystems, and integration of historical trends and research findings into empirical and conceptual models. Management strategies of this nature will facilitate early detection and mitigation of climate induced effects on wetlands in the MAH.


Climate change Mid-Atlantic Highlands Wetland hydrology Wetland ecology 



The authors of this paper thank the Environmental Research Center of West Virginia for providing logistical support and funding for this project and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for financial support. This is scientific article 3121 of the West Virginia University Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.


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Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan L. Pitchford
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chenjie Wu
    • 1
    • 3
  • LianShin Lin
    • 1
    • 3
  • J. Todd Petty
    • 1
    • 2
  • Richard Thomas
    • 1
    • 4
  • Walter E. VeselkaIV
    • 1
    • 2
  • Danny Welsch
    • 1
    • 5
  • Nicolas Zegre
    • 1
    • 2
  • James T. Anderson
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Environmental Research CenterWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA
  2. 2.Division of Forestry and Natural ResourcesWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA
  3. 3.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA
  4. 4.Department of BiologyWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA
  5. 5.Canaan Valley InstituteDavisUSA

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