Globally, hydrologic modifications such as ditching and subsurface drainage have significantly reduced wetland water storage capacity (i.e., volume of surface water a wetland can retain) and consequent wetland functions. While wetland area has been well documented across many landscapes and used to guide restoration efforts, few studies have directly quantified the associated wetland storage capacity. Here, we present a novel raster-based approach to quantify both contemporary and potential (i.e., restorable) storage capacities of individual depressional basins across landscapes. We demonstrate the utility of this method by applying it to the Delmarva Peninsula, a region punctuated by both depressional wetlands and drainage ditches. Across the entire peninsula, we estimated that restoration (i.e., plugging ditches) could increase storage capacity by 80%. Focusing on an individual watershed, we found that over 59% of restorable storage capacity occurs within 20 m of the drainage network, and that 93% occurs within 1 m elevation of the drainage network. Our demonstration highlights widespread ditching in this landscape, spatial patterns of both contemporary and potential storage capacities, and clear opportunities for hydrologic restoration. In Delmarva and more broadly, our novel approach can inform targeted landscape-scale conservation and restoration efforts to optimize hydrologically mediated wetland functions.
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“Conceptual diagram of a (a) drained and (b) restored depressional basin.”
|note||Jones CN, Evenson GR, McLaughlin DL, et al. Estimating restorable wetland water storage at landscape scales. Hydrological Processes. 2017;1–9. https://doi.org/10.1002/hyp.11405|