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.



Bat Blitz Set For July In Sewanee

Education is the key to understanding an issue and the Southeastern Bat Diversity Network hopes to allow the public a peek into the important research focusing on bats during the first day of a week-long Bat Blitz. On  Monday, July 23,  the general public is invited to come out and gain a better understanding of what bat biologists do through the course of their duties. ... (click for more)

A Canoe Tour On Lookout Creek Set For July 27

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park would like to invite the public to participate in a free, two-and-a-half hour, family-friendly canoe tour with a ranger on Friday, July 27, at 9 a.m. National Park Parnters and the Friends of Outdoor Chattanooga will sponsor an event where visitors will paddle the quiet waters of Lookout Creek and learn about the rich Civil War ... (click for more)

Red Bank Approves Short Term Vacation Rental Ordinance On Final Reading

The Red Bank Commission passed an ordinance Tuesday night on second and final reading that regulates short term rentals within the city. "Our hands have been tied because of state law," said Mayor John Roberts. Many residents, both for and against allowing these rentals, have come to recent commission meetings appealing to the commissioners for their side of the issue, ... (click for more)

Firefighters Battle 2-Alarm Fire On Workman Road Tuesday Morning

Chattanooga firefighters were dispatched at 6:03 a.m. on Tuesday, to a commercial fire at 400 Workman Road. When the first firefighters arrived on the scene, flames were shooting through the roof and the request was immediately made for a second alarm response. The flames could be seen for miles as a total of 13 fire companies rushed to the scene. The large, two-story ... (click for more)

Am I Alone?

 Am I alone seems to be quite apt as I begin to form sentences, thoughts and concerns regarding the state of this country. I feel like I am alone trying, somehow, to justify Trump and understand why he is constantly in the middle of chaos.  Now coined as the Liar-in-Chief, Chief Foreign Affairs Coordinator acting for his pal Russian Dictator, Putin.  The silence ... (click for more)

Six Things We Can Do About Mass Shootings - And Response (3)

All politics aside, the recent shooting in Florida, and every other shooting in a public place, is a senseless and, possibly, preventable tragedy. It is absurd that we can’t gather in a free society without the fear of some nut job or terrorist using us as targets.   And then the cries of “do something!” from every quarter. But, other than the obvious attempt by agenda-pushers ... (click for more)