Kolka, R.K., E.A. Nelson and C.C. Trettin
We propose a quantitative, ecosystem level assessment method similar to that developed by the US EPA’s Wetland Research Program (WRP approach) that includes both biotic and abiotic metrics. Similar to the IBI and HGM approaches, biotic and abiotic parameters are compared to those of reference communities, however, the proposed comparisons are quantitative. In developing the assessment method, bottomland reference systems at various stages of succession were compared to a recently restored site in South Carolina (Pen branch). Studies involving hydrology, soil organic matter and nutrient dynamics, vegetation communities, seedling establishment and competition, and avian, small mammal, herpetofauna, fish and macroinvertebrate communities were implemented. In this paper, we discuss the conceptual framework in which we developed our assessment technique.