Developmental framework for a desktop hydrogeomorphic wetland functional assessment derived from field-based data

Peter J. Backhaus, Denice H. Wardrop, Gregory W. McCarty, Robert P. Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With loss of wetlands and their associated ecosystem services within landscapes, it is imperative to be able to understand the change in ecological functions underlying these services. Field-based functional assessments can produce a range of specific scores among a robust set of functions but are time and cost prohibitive as the number of wetlands assessed increases. Remote-based functional assessments are an alternative for broad scale assessments, but trade-off cost for limitations in scoring and functional assemblage. To address these concerns, we created a framework for the development of the Hydrogeomorphic Remote Assessment of Wetland Function (HGM-RAWF). Rooted in the hydrogeomorphic approach of an existing field-based functional assessment and its underlying models, this remote functional assessment substitutes field-based assessment methods with remotely assessed proxies. As potential remote proxies were determined through literature review and statistically screened for use in the remote assessment, a field-based reference wetland database of 222 freshwater wetlands in the Mid-Atlantic Region provided a baseline by which remote data could be compared and calibrated. The resulting HGM-RAWF protocol remotely assesses seven hydrology and biogeochemistry functions in the Mid-Atlantic with assessment scores similar to its field-based counterparts. With noted limitations, the HGM-RAWF framework provides the means to create desktop functional assessments across broad geographic scales with the diversity and specificity of field-based assessments at the reduced costs associated with remote assessments. Its basis in the HGM approach and use of public spatial datasets allows the framework to be adopted regionally and can be used as a model for national wetland functional assessment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number217
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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