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Hydrogeomorphic Classification of Wetlands on Mt. Desert Island, Maine, Including Hydrologic Susceptibility Factors for Wetlands in Acadia National Park

January 18, 2007

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the National Park Service, developed a hydrogeomorphic (HGM) classification system for wetlands greater than 0.4 hectares (ha) on Mt. Desert Island, Maine, and applied this classification using map-scale data to more than 1,200 mapped wetland units on the island. In addition, two hydrologic susceptibility factors were defined for a subset of these wetlands, using 11 variables derived from landscape-scale characteristics of the catchment areas of these wetlands. The hydrologic susceptibility factors, one related to the potential hydrologic pathways for contaminants and the other to the susceptibility of wetlands to disruptions in water supply from projected future changes in climate, were used to indicate which wetlands (greater than 1 ha) in Acadia National Park (ANP) may warrant further investigation or monitoring.

The HGM classification system consists of 13 categories: Riverine-Upper Perennial, Riverine-Nonperennial, Riverine- Tidal, Depressional-Closed, Depressional-Semiclosed, Depressional-Open, Depressional-No Ground-Water Input, Mineral Soil Flat, Organic Soil Flat, Tidal Fringe, Lacustrine Fringe, Slope, and Hilltop/Upper Hillslope. A dichotomous key was developed to aid in the classification of wetlands. The National Wetland Inventory maps produced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provided the wetland mapping units used for this classification. On the basis of topographic map information and geographic information system (GIS) layers at a scale of 1:24,000 or larger, 1,202 wetland units were assigned a preliminary HGM classification. Two of the 13 HGM classes (Riverine-Tidal and Depressional-No Ground-Water Input) were not assigned to any wetlands because criteria for determining those classes are not available at that map scale, and must be determined by more site-specific information. Of the 1,202 wetland polygons classified, which cover 1,830 ha in ANP, 327 were classified as Slope, 258 were Depressional (Open, Semiclosed, and Closed), 231 were Riverine (Upper Perennial and Nonperennial), 210 were Soil Flat (Mineral and Organic), 68 were Lacustrine Fringe, 51 were Tidal Fringe, 22 were Hilltop/Upper Hillslope, and another 35 were small open water bodies. Most small, isolated wetlands classified on the island are Slope wetlands. The least common, Hilltop/Upper Hillslope wetlands, only occur on a few hilltops and shoulders of hills and mountains. Large wetland complexes generally consist of groups of Depressional wetlands and Mineral Soil Flat or Organic Soil Flat wetlands, often with fringing Slope wetlands at their edges and Riverine wetlands near streams flowing through them.

The two analyses of wetland hydrologic susceptibility on Mt. Desert Island were applied to 186 wetlands located partially or entirely within ANP. These analyses were conducted using individually mapped catchments for each wetland. The 186 wetlands were aggregated from the original 1,202 mapped wetland polygons on the basis of their HGM classes. Landscape-level hydrologic, geomorphic, and soil variables were defined for the catchments of the wetlands, and transformed into scaled scores from 0 to 10 for each variable. The variables included area of the wetland, area of the catchment, area of the wetland divided by the area of the catchment, the average topographic slope of the catchment, the amount of the catchment where bedrock crops out with no soil cover or excessively thin soil cover, the amount of storage (in lakes and wetlands) in the catchment, the topographic relief of the catchment, the amount of clay-rich soil in the catchment, the amount of manmade impervious surface, whether the wetland had a stream inflow, and whether the wetland had a hydraulic connection to a lake or estuary. These data were determined using a GIS and data layers mapped at a scale of 1:24,000 or larger.

These landscape variables were combined in different ways for the two hydrologic susceptibility fact

Citation Information

Publication Year 2006
Title Hydrogeomorphic Classification of Wetlands on Mt. Desert Island, Maine, Including Hydrologic Susceptibility Factors for Wetlands in Acadia National Park
DOI 10.3133/sir20065162
Authors Martha G. Nielsen
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2006-5162
Index ID sir20065162
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Maine Water Science Center