Wetland Ecology

Wetlands provide a haven for rare and endangered plants, and one-third of the all endangered species depend on wetlands for survival.

Many wetlands are important fish spawning and nursery areas, as well as nesting, resting and feeding areas for water­fowl.

Wetlands have been called “nature’s kidneys” because of their ability to filter impurities from water. Sediment settles out of runoff and dissolved contaminants bind to plant surfaces or are transformed, resulting in improved water quality. Wetlands perform other valuable functions including reducing flood flow and shoreline erosion control.

The Wetland Ecology Group performs wetland research with the goal of developing wetland biocriteria and wetland water quality standards for Ohio. Funded largely by U.S. EPA grants awarded to assist states with the development of water quality standards for wetlands, the Wetland Ecology Group's work aids and strengthens the basis for regulatory decisions made by the 401 Water Quality Certification Section.

In an effort to be efficient in making and approving wetland category assignments, Ohio EPA has compiled a 10-page Ohio Rapid Assessment Method for Wetlands (ORAM) Version 5.0 form. If filled out completely, the ORAM form will assure we have all information needed for approving wetland category assignments.

The 10-page ORAM form below should be submitted for all wetland characterizations associated with Nationwide Permit, Isolated Wetland Permit and Section 401 Water Quality Certification applications. One form (all 10 pages) should be filled out completely for each wetland the ORAM protocols identify as an individual scoring boundary. See Section 5.0 of the ORAM Version 5.0 Users Manual and the third page of the ORAM form below for scoring boundary protocols and the Scoring Boundary Worksheet, respectively.

For applications with multiple wetlands, as determined by the ORAM protocols, it is permissible to use duplicates for the location maps or drawings and sketches required to complete the first two pages of the ORAM form. However, the first two pages of each form must include all information for the wetland being assessed.

When several wetlands on a site are uniform in size and other characteristics (wetland type, buffer widths, surrounding land uses, hydrology sources, hydrologic regime and level of intactness, habitat quality and level of intactness, plant community composition, maturity, quality and microtopographic features), it is possible to use one ORAM form and have the assessment apply to all of the similar wetlands. When this is the case, the rationale for using one ORAM form should be well documented in the 'Comments' box on the second page of the ORAM form. The appropriateness of using one ORAM form for multiple assessments will be at the sole discretion of Ohio EPA.

Applications must include submittal of the 10-page ORAM form below for each wetland, or the application will be returned as incomplete.

Recent Reports
Nutrient Runoff Reduction via Nutrient Reduction Wetlands in an Agricultural Setting – a GIS Model
PDF
WET/2016-1
Intensification of the National Wetland Condition Assessment for Ohio: Final Report
PDF
WET/2015-1
Integrating Wetland Assessment into Ohio EPA's TMDL Process Part 1: Wetland Assessment of the Middle Scioto. PDF WET/2013-2A              
The Vegetation Index of Biotic Integrity "Floristic Quality" (VIBI-FQ). PDF WET/2013-2
Scioto Big Run: Assessing the Impacts of Wetlands on an Urban Stream. PDF  WET/2013-1 
     

 

Amphibian Index of Biotic Integrity
Amphibian Index of Biotic Integrity (AmphIBI) for Wetlands. Final Report to U.S. EPA Grant No. CD985875-01. Testing Biological Metrics and Development of Wetland Assessment Techniques Using Reference Sites. Volume 3 (April 24, 2002). PDF  
Field Manual for the Amphibian Index of Biotic Integrity for Wetlands.
  • Excel file [XLS] - to be used to automatically calculate AmphIBI scores
  • Funnel Trap Design  - a trap graphic with measurements and construction instructions
  • Funnel End Template  - template of a funnel end, that is to scale if printed on 11 inch by 17 inch paper
PDF WET/2011-1
     

 

An Ecological and Functional Assessment of Urban Wetlands in Central Ohio
Volume 1: Condition of Urban Wetlands Using Rapid (Level 2) and Intensive (Level 3) Assessment Methods. PDF WET/2007-3A
Volume 2: Morphometric Surveys, Depth-Area-Volume Relationships and Flood Storage Function. PDF WET/2007-3B
Volume 3: Comparisons of the Amphibian Communities of Urban and Reference Wetlands Using Level 1, 2 and 3 Assessment Tools. PDF WET/2008-1
      

 

An Inventory of Ohio Wetland Compensatory Mitigation
Part 1  
 
Part 2: Final Report to U.S. EPA Grant No. CD97576201-0 (March 31, 2005).
Note: Information on specific mitigation sites is available on the Wetland Mitigation Site Information page.
PDF
 
Final Report to U.S. EPA Grant No. CD97576201-0 (Nov. 4, 2003).
Note: Information on specific mitigation sites is available on the Wetland Mitigation Site Information page.
PDF
 
      

 

Assessment of Wetland Mitigation Projects in Ohio
Volume 1: An Ecological Assessment of Ohio Individual Wetland Mitigation Projects. PDF WET/2010-1A
Volume 2: Developing a GIS-based Tool to Optimize Vernal Pool Wetland Mitigation Site Selection (Potential Vernal Pool Restoration Sites). PDF WET/2010-1B
      

 

Floristic Quality Assessment Index (FQAI)
Testing the Floristic Quality Assessment Index as an Indicator of Riparian Wetland Disturbance. Final Report to U.S. EPA (June 1998).  PDF
 
Floristic Quality Assessment Index (FQAI) for Vascular Plants and Mosses for the State of Ohio (2004). Report PDF Appendices XLS or ZIP
 
Updated Floristic Quality Assessment Index (FQAI) spreadsheet for the State of Ohio (2014). HTML
      

 

Integrated Wetland Assessment System
Part 1    
Part 2: An Ordination and Classification of Wetlands in the Till and Lake Plains and Allegheny Plateau Regions (2004). PDF WET/2004-2
Part 3    
Part 4: Vegetation Index of Biotic Integrity (VIBI) and Tiered Aquatic Life Uses (TALUs) for Ohio Wetlands (2004).
Note: See addendum below.
PDF WET/2004-4
Addendum Part 7: Amphibian Index of Biotic Integrity for Ohio Wetlands (2006). PDF WET/2006-2
Part 5: Biogeochemical and Hydrological Investigations of Natural and Mitigation Wetlands (2004). PDF WET/2004-5
Part 6: Standardized Monitoring Protocols and Performance Standards for Ohio Mitigation Wetlands (2004). PDF WET/2004-6
Part 7: Amphibian Index of Biotic Integrity (AmphIBI) for Ohio Wetlands (2004). PDF WET/2004-7
Part 7 Addendum: Amphibian Index of Biotic Integrity for Ohio Wetlands (2006). PDF WET/2006-2
Part 8: Initial Development of Wetland Invertebrate Community Index for Ohio (2004). PDF WET/2004-8
Addendum Part 8: Initial Development of Wetland Invertebrate Community Index for Ohio (2006). Investigations of Invertebrate Communities in Wetlands in the Huron/Erie Lake Plains Ecoregion and Mitigation Banks. PDF WET/2006-3
Part 9: Field Manual for the Vegetation Index of Biotic Integrity for Wetlands v. 1.5. PDF WET/2015-2
Part 9: Field Manual for the Vegetation Index of Biotic Integrity for Wetlands v. 1.3 (2004).
Note: Provided for historical purposes only.
PDF WET/2004-9
Part 9: ERRATA Corrected Appendix A Field Data Sheets Corrected Appendix B Example Calculations. PDF PDF  
      

 

Mitigation and Restoration
A Functional Assessment of Mitigation Wetlands in Ohio: Comparisons with Natural Systems. Final Report to U.S. EPA (June 1977). PDF  
An Ecological Assessment of Ohio Mitigation Banks: Vegetation, Amphibians, Hydrology and Soils (2006). Webpage WET/2006-1
Characteristic Ohio Plant Species for Wetland Restoration Projects v. 1.0. PDF WET/2007-1
Faunal Aspects of Wetland Creation and Restoration. Dissertation. Deni Porej (2004). Ohio State University Website  
      

 

Vegetation Index of Biotic Integrity (VIBI)
Application of a Vegetation-based Index of Biotic Integrity for Lake Erie Coastal Marshes in Ohio. Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management 11:91-104. Link
Automated Spreadsheets for Calculating and Reporting the Vegetation Index of Biotic Integrity (VIBI) Metrics and Scores (updated 2016).   ZIP
Development Issues with Extending Plant-based IBIs to Forested Wetlands in the Midwestern United States. Wetlands Ecology and Management 17:117-130 (2009). Link
Vegetation Index of Biotic Integrity (VIBI) for Wetlands: Ecoregional, Hydrogeomorphic and Plant Community Comparisons with Preliminary Wetland Aquatic Life Use Designations. Final Report to U.S. EPA Grant No. CD985875-01. Testing Biological Metrics and Development of Wetland Assessment Techniques Using Reference Sites. Volume 1 (Nov. 9, 2001). PDF
Vegetation Indices of Biotic Integrity (VIBI) for Wetlands and Calibration of the Ohio Rapid Assessment Method for Wetlands v. 5.0. Final Report to U.S. EPA Grant No. CD985276. Interim Report to U.S. EPA Grant No. CD985875. Volume 1 (Aug. 1, 2000). PDF
    

 

Wetland Quality Determinations
An Ecological Assessment of Wetlands Using Reference Sites. Volume I: Final Report to U.S. EPA Grant No. CD995761-01-0 (June 1998).  PDF  
Dealing With Sources Of Variation in the Development of Wetland Tiered Aquatic Life Uses. PDF WET/2007-6
Developing a Wetland IBI with Statewide Application after Multiple Testing Iterations. Ecological Indicators 7:864-881. Link  
Landscape as a Predictor of Wetland Condition: An Evaluation of the Landscape Development Index (LDI) with a Large Reference Wetland Dataset from Ohio. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 120:221-241. Link  
      

 

Other Resources
Assessment Of Wetlands in the Cuyahoga River Watershed of Northeast Ohio. PDF WET/2007-4
Density-based Invertebrate Community Index (DICI) of Ohio Wetlands. PDF WET/2007-5
Unpublished dot maps for Dicotyledonae of Ohio Part 1: Acanthaceae through Zygophyllaceae. PDF  
     
Wetland Ecology Unit
DeShon, Jeff Section Manager 
(614) 836-8780
Gara, Brian
Wetland Ecology, Ohio Rapid Assessment Method for Wetlands (ORAM)
(614) 836-8787
     

In this video, Agency expert Ric Queen explains the characteristics of wetlands and why they're so important to preserve.