Environmental Wetlands Discussion

Description

OBJECTIVES
• Be able to describe important characteristics of a wetland in context using appropriate terminology
• Demonstrate an understanding of key wetland indicators in the field
• Interpret the factors potentially involved in protecting said wetland and offer some insight in determining possible conservation concerns   
GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS
You must visit a wetland; this can be any wetland are as long as you physically attend the site.  No virtual sites will be accepted unless you have an SDS accommodation, are located in an area without wetlands, or have some other need to do so that is cleared by the instructor prior to the due date . Some suggestions on or near campus include Riverfront Park at USF and Lettuce Lake Park. However, any wetland will suffice, including those directly on campus or near where you live, so long as you pick just one. While you are there you will take detailed notes including pictures about the wetland vegetation, soils, water, and human impacts.  You will then write a report following the outline provided.  The report must be organized into sections labelled with headings matching the outline.  Each section should consist of paragraphs describing your field observations, referencing your images as appropriate. The outline describes the content you should include in each section of your report.  You must use the headings below (e.g. Introduction) to organize your paper.

A. Introduction: include a brief opening paragraph:
Highlight the importance of wetlands and why they play a critical role within the landscape
Take a selfie of you with your wetland and include it in this section of the report. It is important that you do this at the beginning of your report to ensure it was you who visited your site!
State the name of your site where you made your visit
B. Description of Site: provide a general study area description 
Where is it located, and what type of wetland is it? Also mention when (date and
time of day) you made your observations
Describe the geomorphology, climate, or other important factors
How much open water is there vs vegetation?
What is the significance or history of this site? 
You may want to consult external references, as appropriate, but cite them 
Take a “big picture” of the site and include it in this section of the report. Similar to those pictures seen in the lecture slides, it should be possible to identify the type of wetland based on this picture

C. Vegetation and Biota: identify and describe
Take pictures of and identify the plant species in your wetland. If you cannot identify all species, provide a class (e.g. submergent, emergent) instead. 
Which of these species are hydrophytes?

What wetland plant adaptations can you see?
Do you notice any other wetland biota, especially wildlife?  What did you observe?
Based on this information, does it meet wetland criteria for having an abundance of
hydrophytes?  (Explain)
 

D. Hydrology: note the major characteristics

Describe what you can about the hydrology of your site and state what indicators of
wetland hydrology you should be looking for
• Which of these indicators are present? Take pictures of any visible signs of these
indicators (e.g. signs of intermittent flood areas)
• Based on this, do you think it meets the criteria for wetland hydrology? (Explain)

E. Soils: note major characteristics
Describe what you can about the soil type based on what you can see Note: You are not to disturb public sites in any way; use above ground
indicators.
State what indicators of hydric soils you would expect to find if you were to look at the soil profile. 
Use the USDA Soil Survey to describe the soils (what Soil Map Units, their major characteristics, such as depth, drainage class, texture, and so forth)
Which hydric soils indicators are present? Take pictures of any visible signs of these indicators. 

Based on your findings, does the site meet the criteria of having hydric soils?
F. Conclusion: Wetland Policy and Management

To the best of your knowledge, is your wetland naturally occurring or part of a restoration effort? Pictures of the surrounding area may be beneficial to include here.

What are the human impacts on the wetland?
Based on the previous information, what do you think are some of the functions or benefits your particular wetland provides? 
What is the value of this wetland? 
What improvements might be made to this wetland?
FORMAT GUIDELINES

Your paper should be a minimum of 10-12 pages double spaced, including reasonably-sized pictures, with an appropriate font. While you will not be penalized for going over 12 pages, I do not believe you can thoroughly address every item specified in the handout to receive full credit in less than 10 pages.   
Label pictures appropriately. For example, if you are required take a picture of a specific species of vegetation, your picture should clearly distinguish which plant you are referring to and label that plant.
An important skill to develop is clear communication of scientific concepts in writing. While you will mostly be graded on content, there are certain expectations regarding the overall clarity and format of your paper. You should use this paper as an opportunity to practice clear scientific writing. A sample of scientific writing format is posted at https://cgi.duke.edu/web/sciwriting/Links to an external site. 
Finally, make sure the work you turn in is your own and use citations when necessary. Any standard format for citations is acceptable.  You do not need to cite lecture notes.  Most students use 2-5 external sources in completing their reports.  
Do not use any direct quotes or any copy-pasting in your writing, even if you aim to change a few words.  All written work should be your own. Direct quotes, even when cited, are not permitted.  

These papers will be submitted on Canvas and run through the TurnItIn.com system which will flag any instances of plagiarism.  Evidence of copying another student’s paper or using it as a guide will result in an F in the assignment, F in the course, or FF in the course.  

Submit your paper as  a pdf, not a Word or .pages document.
You can submit your images as a separate document. You’ll need to label/reference the images (e.g. Figure 1, Figure 2, etc) in the both documents, so we understand which images correspond to which parts of the text. There is a 0 point assignment in the project module for doing so.

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