Spatial distribution of historical wetland classes on the Des Moines Lobe, Iowa


We estimated the pre-settlement density and area of different classes of palustrine wetlands on the Des Moines Lobe based on soil characteristics. Six wetland classes, ranging from temporarily flooded to permanently flooded, were identified based on soil properties that persisted after artificial drainage. Prior to drainage, wetlands covered nearly half of the Des Moines Lobe and there were differences in both the types and relative abundance of wetlands among the four geologic subdivisions of the Lobe (Bemis, Altamont, and Algona till plains and Altamont Lake). In the flat Altamont Lake zone, the most common wetlands were equally split between temporarily flooded and saturated water regimes. Among the three till plain zones, saturated wetlands were the dominant wetland type. Differences in wetland distributions among the zones probably derive from differences in initial topography and post-glacial processes such as erosion-deposition processes and stream-network formation.

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Correspondence to Bradley A. Miller.

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Miller, B.A., Crumpton, W.G. & van der Valk, A.G. Spatial distribution of historical wetland classes on the Des Moines Lobe, Iowa. Wetlands 29, 1146–1152 (2009).

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Key Words

  • prairie potholes
  • soils
  • till plains
  • wetland class