Wildlife Tech Class of 2018
Carmel High School
Mentor: Chris Nagy (MRG)
Project: Wetland functional assessment in the Mianus River Watershed
Project Status: Completed
There is extensive evidence that natural wetlands contribute to ecosystem biodiversity and natural improvement of water quality which can impact the drinking water of a watershed (Beam, 2004; Alho, 2005). Specifically, the health conditions of the wetlands in the Mianus River Watershed were of interest for the watershed’s contribution to nearby coastal rivers and the drinking water for approximately 130,000 people. A total of 41 wetlands in New York and Connecticut were identified to contribute to the Mianus River Watershed using criteria of size and location relative to the river. From 2016 to 2017, 39 wetlands were assessed using a hydrogeomorphic (HGM) assessment protocol which measured hydrology, vegetation, geology and other related variables. The results of this assessment provided 8 indices of ecological function for each wetland, as well as a specific threats and important ecological features which allow for specific management and restoration recommendations for each site. In sum, 44% of wetlands surveyed scored above 0.75 on the modification of water quality index and thus were identified as a priority to maintain in healthy conditions. Overall, ideal vegetation health (above 0.75) was present for 82% of wetlands while only 31% had ideal fauna health (above 0.75). Preliminary comparison showed that the wetland that scored lowest in faunal diversity (0.53) had twice as many invasive species (10) as the two wetlands that scored highest in faunal diversity (0.89 for both). A potential cause of this finding is that invasive species over time can dominate leading to lower biodiversity and less animal food, thus decreasing overall faunal biodiversity. Since invasive species can come from human/urban proximity, future research can investigate if the wetlands identified to have fewer invasive species and better fauna diversity scores have a greater isolation from urban setting.