AN EVALUATION OF RAPID METHODS FOR ASSESSING THE ECOLOGICAL CONDITION OF WETLANDS
We analyzed 40 existing wetland rapid assessment methods that were developed for a variety of purposes, including informing regulatory decisions and local land use planning, and reviewed them for their potential to assess ecological integrity or condition. Four evaluation criteria were used. We determined if the method 1) can be used to measure condition, 2) is truly rapid, 3) includes a site visit, and 4) can be verified. This resulted in six methods being selected for evaluation relative to a conceptual model describing the core elements of a wetland assessment method, including universal indicators of soil, hydrology, and biotic communities, as well as regional indicators. An additional nine methods were kept for ideas on indicators, scoring, or regionalization. From this review, we identified five general areas that need to be addressed when adapting existing methods or developing new methods to assess condition: 1) definition of the assessment area, 2) treatment of wetland type, 3) approaches to scoring, 4) consideration of highly valued wetland types or features, and 5) procedures for validation with comprehensive ecological data. With scoring in particular, we present the advantages of a method that produces a single integrative score. Development of a rapid assessment method can assist those interested in incorporating condition assessment into their programs because they require less time in the field and less taxonomic expertise than more quantitative methods, which can lead to significant cost savings and increased sample sizes.
Fennessy, S. Jacobs, A. and M. Kentula. 2007. An evaluation of rapid methods for assessing the ecological condition of wetlands. Wetlands 27:504–521.