Brian GaraOhio EPA Wetland Ecology Group March 19, 2011
Talk OverviewPlants as indicators of ecological condition(“environmental health”).(“environmental health”).Species indicative of high quality vernal pools: Woody Species (Trees and Shrubs) Non-woody species Non-woody Sedges Grasses & Other Herbaceous Monocots and Dicots Ferns Bryophytes (mosses and liverworts)Brief summary of GIS project to identify potential vernalpool restoration sites in Ohio.
The answer is “YES”!!! Many plant species show a strong affinity to veryspecific habitats. Slight disturbances in the environment lead to aloss of more sensitive species, and an increase in themore “weedy” tolerant ones. “weedy” Knowing the plants will help you determine ifthere is a vernal pool present (even when dry!) andalso give solid evidence of its overall ecologicalcondition.
Floristic Quality Assessment Index (FQAI)Numeric score from 0 to 10 assigned toeach Ohio vascular plant species.Called “Coefficient of Conservatism” (C ofC). Refers to the affinity of each species toa particular habitat type.“Tolerant” species that occur in a widevariety of habitats have a low score.“Sensitive” species have a higher number.
Common Reed (Phragmites australis)C of C = 0Plants with a wide range of ecological tolerances, includingall non-native taxa
Rice Cutgrass (Leersia oryzoides)C of C = 1 to 2Widespread taxa that are generally not typical of a particularcommunity.
C of C = 3 to 5 Plants having an intermediate range of ecological tolerances. May be found in a stable phase of some native community, but also can persist under some disturbance. Swamp Milkweed(Asclepias incarnata)
Skunk Cabbage(Symphoricarpus foetidus) C of C = 6 to 8 Plants that typify stable or near “climax” conditions.
Pitcher Plant(Sarracenia purpurea) C of C = 9 to 10 Reserved for those plant species that have an extremely narrow range of ecological tolerances. Typically found in very specialized habitat types (bogs, fens, limestone outcrops, etc.)
Procedure for scoring and categorizing wetlands based on the plantplantcommunity structure.Calculates a score between 0 and 100 based on a series of “metrics” “ metrics”derived from field data (e.g., plant identification, cover class, and class,stem diameter size classes) collected within a standard 20 meter x meter50 meter vegetation plot.Using the VIBI you can compare the relative ecological condit ion conditionof wetlands within a particular class.Strong statistical correlation between ecological condition ofofwetlands when results compared from the amphibian communityassessment techniques and the VIBI.Because the plant community is such an excellent indicator ofecosystem health, the VIBI is used by Ohio EPA to assess ecological ecologicalcondition in all wetland types and across all ecoregions in the state.
Vernal Pool PlantsMost vernal pools are classified as isolated depressions(hydrogeomorphic class) Hydrology is predominantly driven by precipitation Some vernal pools also have an input of groundwater, which allows them to stay wet longer into the summer.The predominant plant community types associatedwith vernal pools are forested and scrub-shrub.The plant community plays a critical role in the overallhydrologic regime of these vernal pools!
Characteristic woody species of vernal poolsTrees Silver Maple ( Acer saccharinum), Red Maple (Acer rubrum), Green (Acer saccharinum), (Acer rubrum), Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), Pin Oak (Quercus palustris) (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), (Quercus palustris) common in all types and in disturbed and undisturbed swamps Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor), Pumpkin Ash (Fraxinus (Quercus bicolor), (Fraxinus profunda), Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra), and Shellbark Hickory (Carya profunda), (Fraxinus nigra), (Carya laciniosa) laciniosa) often better quality and/or more matureShrubs Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) (Cephalanthus occidentalis) probably the most characteristic shrub species of vernal pools Other species include: Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), Spicebush (Ilex verticillata), (Lindera benzoin), Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum), Swamp Rose benzoin), (Cornus amomum), (Rosa palustris). palustris).
Ohio Vernal Pool Trees - Maples Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum) C of C = 3 Red Maple (Acer rubrum) C of C = 2
Development of Level I analysis tool to estimatewetland condition. Identification of “high quality” vernal pools. “high quality” Field testing using Level II (ORAM) and LevelIII (VIBI and AmphIBI) procedures to validate AmphIBI)GIS model. Creation of a statewide potential vernal poolrestoration GIS layer.
Predicted “High Quality” Vernal Pool Locations Quality”