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Literature Review on the Use of Water-Stained Leaves in the Delineation of Wetlands

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Technical note

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The initial purpose of this review was to determine whether the scientific literature contains a technical basis for the use of water-stained leaves as a field indicator of wetland hydrology. When it was established that no technical information was available on that specific topic, the review was broadened to examine factors that could potentially influence the occurrence of water-stained leaves in wetland conditions. A table summarizing the habitat type, location, processes investigated, and environmental factors considered in each of the reviewed articles is presented. A synthesis of this literature, along with suggestions for the use of water-stained leaves in wetland identification, can be found in WRP Technical Note HY-DE-2.1. Water-stained leaves were presented as a significant indicator of wetland hydrology in the 1989 Federal wetlands delineation manual, and currently are used as a secondary hydrologic indicator under the 1987 Corps of Engineers manual. In spite of this emphasis, little is known about the technical validity of this indicator. Accordingly, a literature review was conducted which has resulted in a bibliography and synthesis of related literature. The literature review consisted of searching pertinent electronic databases reviewing pertinent articles and their cited references reviewing recently published journals on related subjects and reviewing references obtained from subject matter experts. The authors found no articles specifically addressing water-stained leaves. Articles related to wetlands, however, are numerous, and investigations of decomposition continue to be relatively common. Articles dealing with any one of the following four topics were selected for inclusion in this bibliography water-stained leaves, comprehensive aspects of decomposition in wetlands, aquatic decomposition, and relevant aspects of wetland ecology. The bibliography contains 97 citations.

Subject Categories:

  • Biochemistry
  • Ecology
  • Microbiology
  • Geology, Geochemistry and Mineralogy
  • Hydrology, Limnology and Potamology

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