Proposed hydrogeomorphic classification for wetlands of the mid-atlantic region, USA

Robert P. Brooks, Mark M. Brinson, Kirk J. Havens, Carl S. Hershner, Richard D. Rheinhardt, Denice H. Wardrop, Dennis F. Whigham, Amy D. Jacobs, Jennifer M. Rubbo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


We propose a regional classification for wetlands of the Mid-Atlantic region, USA. It combines functional characteristics recognized by the hydrogeomorphic (HGM) approach with the established classification of the National Wetland Inventory (NWI). The HGM approach supplements the NWI classification by recognizing the importance of geomorphic setting, water sources, and flow dynamics that are key to functioning wetlands. Both NWI and HGM share at their highest levels the Marine, Estuarine, and Lacustrine classes. This classification departs from the NWI system by subdividing the Palustrine system into HGM classes of Slope, Depression, and Flat. Further, the Riverine class expands to include associated Palustrine wetlands, thus recognizing the interdependency between channel and floodplain. Deepwater habitats of NWI are not included because they differ functionally. Mid-Atlantic regional subclasses recognize two subclasses each for Flat, Slope, and Marine Tidal Fringe; three subclasses for Depression; four subclasses for Lacustrine Fringe and Estuarine Tidal Fringe, and five subclasses for Riverine. Taking a similar approach in other geographic regions will better characterize wetlands for assessment and restoration. This approach was applied successfully during a regional wetlands condition assessment. We encourage additional testing by others to confirm its utility in the region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-219
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • General Environmental Science


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