Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Let's Hear It For The Seeps!

Dr. Dan Tufford, Department of Biological Sciences at the University of South Carolina, has an interest in watershed ecology and water resources management. Along with Steve Bennett, herpetologist for SC Department of Natural Resources (SC DNR), they have been studying the hydrology and salamander communities for seeps at the Francis Beidler Forest and the Wannamaker Nature Preserve near St. Matthews. The boards in the image are placed and then revisited once salamanders and other fauna have sought shelter beneath them.

Seeps are small, poorly-understood wetlands that occur at the base of slopes, generally at the outer edge of a floodplain or stream corridor. They are supplied by groundwater flow from adjacent sloping land.

"There is a need to better understand the characteristics, functions, and landscape matrix within which seepage wetlands occur so that we can know their ecological roles, rather than infer them as is currently the situation. Filling the knowledge gap about these wetlands is particularly urgent at this time. The Coastal Plain is under increasingly intense development pressure. Although these wetlands may be ubiquitous in a particular landscape, individually they are frequently quite small and are perceived by many to be unimportant, and thus expendable. A lack of knowledge of the ecological and environmental roles of these wetlands makes it difficult to argue persuasively for their protection. "--Tufford, Nelson, Bennett (SC DNR), Harrison (CofC)

Today, Dr. Bud Badr, Chief of Hydrology; Dr. Bill Clendenin, State Geologist, and Dr. Ralph Willoughby, geologist, all from SC DNR, were present to visit the Beidler Forest seep sites and to hear a research proposal from Tufford and Bennett. The proposal calls for geologists to determine the geologic profile for the land around the seep and for hydrologists to create a model to determine the area around the seep necessary to maintain water flow within the seep. As noted in the paragraph above, a better understanding of "characteristics, functions, and landscape matrix within which seepage wetlands" is critical to understanding how to protect these specific wetlands.

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