Describe the geomorphology,


Now that you have completed all course modules, you should be familiar with the basic

components of a wetland. Effective wetland management includes describing the important

characteristics of wetlands in order to evaluate wetland resources and function within the

landscape. This helps decision makers determine their value and role in a watershed as

well as assess associated risks in order to prioritize protection. In this field trip you are

tasked with visiting a wetland of your choice and writing a report. Read this document in

its entirety before making your field visit.



• 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



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 or are

located in an area without wetlands. 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.



A. Introduction: include a brief opening paragraph

• Highlight the importance of wetlands and why they play a critical role within the


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?

• 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: 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?

• Based on this information, does it meet wetland criteria for having an abundance of

hydrophytes? (Explain)

D. Water: 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 and state what indicators of soil you

expect to find.

• Which of these indicators are present? Take pictures of any visible signs of these

indicators. Note: You are not to disturb public sites in any way; use above ground


• Based on what you see, does the site meet the criteria of having hydric soils?

G. 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


• 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?



• Your paper should be a minimum of 10-12 pages double spaced 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


• 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. Do not provide a big picture of your vegetation and list all in the

picture. Aim for multiple images of plants, where possible.

• 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 below.

Another good resource can be found at

Sample Paragraph using Scientific Writing Format

“Geographically isolated wetlands may be naturally formed or be the result of human

activities. Naturally occurring isolated wetlands are mainly represented by the following

types: prairie pothole wetlands, playas, Nebraska’s Rainwater Basin and Sandhills wetlands,

West Coast vernal pools, sinkhole wetlands, Carolina bays, interdunal and intradunal

wetlands, desert springs, terminal basins in the Great Basin, and kettlehole, bogs in

glaciated regions (Table 1). While most of these wetlands occur in depressions, some

naturally isolated types form on broad flats and even on slopes. The predominant wetland

types in many regions also include geographically isolated forms in closed basins.” – Tiner,

Ralph W. (2003) Geographically isolated wetlands of the United States. Wetlands,


• Finally, make sure the work you turn in is your own and use citations when necessary.

Any standard format for citations is acceptable. These papers will be submitted on Canvas

and run through the system which will flag any instance of plagiarism.

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