Measure Amount and characteristics of habitat adjacent to coastal wetlands in the
Great Lakes Basin.
Purpose This metric provides a measure of adjoining upland habitat characteristics,
which may affect wetland biota, that require upland habitat for a portion of their life cycle.
Parameters address the restoration and maintenance of ecological (i.e., hydrologic and biogeochemical)
functions of Great Lakes coastal wetlands. The presence, wetland-proximity, and/or spatial extent of
habitat types should be such that the hydrologic and biogeochemical functions of wetlands continue.
Features This indicator offers information on the presence, location, and predominance
of habitat adjacent to wetlands, and may provide information about how such habitat types affect the
ecological characteristics and functions of coastal wetlands, as demonstrated by the use of
remote-sensing data and/or field observations. This indicator can be tracked over time if necessary.
Limitations To conduct such measures at a broad scale, the relationships between
wetland-adjacent land cover and the suitability of habitat for particular species need to be verified.
This measure will need to be validated fully with thorough field sampling data and sufficient a priori
knowledge of such endpoints and ecological mechanisms.
Interpretation Habitat suitability/vulnerability can be more thoroughly explored and
explained if it is linked to the physiology and sociobiology of the species being mapped. Interpretation
of this indicator may be correlated with other metrics and their patterns across the Great Lakes, and
such interpretation may vary as a result of the specificity of land cover information and the
contemporaneous nature of the data. Thus, more detailed land cover specificity is required, and is
currently under development by EPA/ORD.
Comments A thorough field-sampling protocol, properly validated geographic information,
and other remote-sensing-based data could lead to successful development of wetland-adjacent land cover
as an indicator of Great Lakes habitat conditions, coastal wetland function, and ecological
vulnerability in the region. Such an indicator could be applied to select wetland sites, but would be
most effective if used at a regional or basin-wide scale.
Metric Maps Relevant coastal areas in the
Great Lakes Basin are mapped for the presence and proximity of land cover in the vicinity of wetlands
using remote-sensing based geographic information, and may be analyzed in the context of habitat
suitability and habitat vulnerability for a variety of plant and animal species. For example, grassland
and/or forest adjacent to wetlands may be important areas for forage, cover, or reproduction for a
variety of organisms. Depending upon the particular physiological and sociobiological requirements of
different organisms, the adjacent land cover extent (i.e., the width of the upland area around the
wetland) may be of importance for interpreting the suitability/vulnerability of habitat conditions.