Forest Loss Threatens Unique Wetlands

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Some of the most important wetlands in the southeastern U.S. have experienced decades of degradation and now face an uncertain future. In a new study published in the journal Wetlands, ecologists at the University of the South show how an extensive network of small forested wetlands on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia are being threatened by loss of forest habitat.

 

These wetlands, called vernal pools, act as distinct aquatic “islands” of biodiversity scattered across the region’s uplands.

The wetlands are irreplaceable habitat for amphibians, birds, and rare plants. Amphibians such as salamanders depend on these pools to breed. Migrant birds use the wetlands as feeding stations to fuel their journeys. Rare plants live nowhere but the wet soils around the pools. When development or logging removes forest from around the pools, this biodiversity declines and disappears. Vernal pools are therefore considered vital “hotspots” of biodiversity.

 

Lead researcher Jon Evans and his colleagues used a computer analysis of aerial photographs to map almost 2,400 pools in the three-state study area. The authors found that only 7 percent of these pools were located on protected lands such as state parks. Forest cover around the pools steadily dropped between 1981 and 2010: the number of fully forested pools declined by more than one third, and the number of pools that had little or no forest around them increased by nearly four times.

 

“These tear-drop shaped pools are a vital part of the rich, natural tapestry of the Cumberland Plateau landscape,” Mr. Evans said. “Hopefully, our study will now generate awareness of their existence and provide a scientific basis to guide their conservation in the future.”

 

“This research helps to fill an important gap in our understanding of isolated wetlands at a critical juncture for the Clean Water Act,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Right now, the EPA is developing policies to decide which wetlands should receive federal protections, and this research shows just how vital these wetlands are, both to biodiversity and to the maintenance of water quality in this region.”  

 

“The study directly supports the state’s mission to prevent the degradation of its diverse wetlands,” said Caitlin Elam, environmental scientist with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “It allows a more thorough understanding of the current threats to vernal pool wetlands, and it facilitates the location and identification of these valuable wetland resources, resulting in more protective land-use planning and regulatory oversight for these unique waters, before they are lost.”

 

See the full study here: http://rdcu.be/va7d.



New State Record Blue Catfish Beats Previous By More Than 12 Pounds

A day of fishing is good. A day you catch a new state record – and beat the old one by more than 12 pounds – is great! Richard Barrett is the new state record holder for the blue catfish. His catch, weighing 93 lb, 0 oz, beat the previous 2010 record of 80 pounds, 4 ounces, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.   Mr. ... (click for more)

Master Gardeners Of Hamilton County Offer Free Gardening Classes

The Master Gardeners of Hamilton County (MGHC), in association with the University of Tennessee Extension, extend their outreach with a series of Third Saturday Free Gardening Classes.  On Oct. 21, from 10 a.m.-noon, master gardener Bertha Livingston leads “Children in the Garden,” a workshop for adult/child partners.  MGHC classes take place at the UT Extension, ... (click for more)

Man Shot Multiple Times In Cleveland; Jesus Teague, 14, Is Arrested

On Saturday, at 6:12 a.m., Cleveland Police Department responded to 1210 Elrod Place SE in reference to a domestic disturbance.   A man sustained multiple gunshot wounds and was transported to Erlanger by Life Force. His condition is stable, at this time.   The suspect, Jesus Tyler Teague, 14, was located and was in custody as of 3:25 p.m. ... (click for more)

Travis Caslin, 42, Shot While Walking Along South Willow Street

Chattanooga Police said a man was shot on Friday night while walking along South Willow Street.   The victim was identified as Travis Caslin, 42.   At 7:37 p.m., Chattanooga Police officers were called to a local hospital after a person showed up with a gunshot wound.   Police were informed that the victim's condition was non-life threatening. ... (click for more)

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Myth And Fact Check

My husband and I recently had the privilege of participating in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Chattanooga. I listened as my husband told the audience about how his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when he was nine and how she died from the disease when he was fourteen. As a child, my husband didn’t understand what breast cancer ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: It’s All About People

The leaders of Hamilton County’s Mental Health Court held a heart-warming open house Friday afternoon and it was announced that just since February, the creation has saved the county over $3 million in incarceration costs. But to hear County Mayor Jim Coppinger or Judge Don Poole tell it, that’s not what is important. “Soon after the court started, a kind, quiet man I’ll ... (click for more)