Jonathan M. Malzone
Ridge-top wetlands occur throughout the Daniel Boone National Forest (DBNF) and provide valuable ecologic services; they are rich in biodiversity, and play a key part in nutrient cycling. Ridge-top wetlands are classified as geographically-isolated wetlands (GIWs), because they are perched on the top of a sandstone ridge, and there is a semi-impermeable clay layer that retains water away from other water bodies. This research focused on identifying the geomorphic characteristics of 34 ridge-top wetland watersheds in the DBNF in order to classify groundwater and surface water patterns that produce ecological services. We identified GIWs with high resolution LiDAR data and used ArcGIS to analyze the size, slope, shape, and distribution of each watershed’s upland and lowland. The slope and coverage of uplands and lowlands are hypothesized to control the relationship between runoff and groundwater recharge, which will control the hydrologic patterns of the wetland. Four wetland types were identified: open valley, long valley, short valley, and amphitheater wetlands. Open valley and long valley wetlands had broad lowlands that were bounded by steep narrow uplands. These wetlands are likely dominated by runoff in the uplands. Amphitheater wetlands had broad flat uplands and smaller lowlands that would promote more groundwater recharge. Short valley wetlands had properties between amphitheater and long valley wetlands making them an even balance between the two. More upland runoff means that lowlands will be flooded quickly creating more ephemeral GIWs, while more upland recharge will create slower groundwater discharge to the lowlands that sustains water levels longer.