Evaluating the location, extent, and condition of isolated wetlands in the Dougherty Plain, Georgia, USA
Martin, Glenn Ivy
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Geographically isolated wetlands are common throughout Georgia’s Dougherty Plain physiographic district, and provide many valuable ecosystem services. However, they are currently excluded from federal and state protection. To better understand the isolated wetland resource, we created a spatially-explicit timeline of land use and land cover within Dougherty Plain, developed a spatial map of isolated wetlands, and constructed a multi-metric framework to assess the ecological condition of 40 isolated wetlands at multiple scales. We found drastic shifts in land use and land cover between 1948 and 2007. We estimate that there are approximately 11,620 isolated wetlands covering 42,431 ha within the Dougherty Plain. The ecological assessment showed strong correlation between assessment methods and scales, and indicates that a remote assessment may be suitable for future studies. Future research can use this information to identify isolated wetlands in the Dougherty Plain, explore their land cover trajectories, and assess their ecological condition.