Wetland sedimentation and vegetation patterns near selected highway crossings in West Tennessee

U.S. Geological Survey, Water Resources Investigations Report 91-4106

by David E. Bazemore, Cliff R. Hupp and Timothy H. Diehl

This report is available as a pdf below


Wetland sedimentation and vegetation patterns at 11 highway crossings in West Tennessee were studied from 1987 to 1989. The purpose of the study was to investigate potential adverse effects of highway crossings on wetlands. Sedimentation rates, determined from root-burial depths, were highly variable. Average rates offine-grained deposition ranged from 0.005 to 0.033 foot per year for stations in locally ponded areas and from -0.002 to 0.039 foot per year for stations in drained areas. Sedimentation rates upstream from highway crossings were not significantly different from downstream rates at 8 of the 11 study sites. Three study sites had significantly greater sedimentation rates downstream. Sand splays were observed downstream from bridges at most study sites. Vegetation patterns and tree growth appear most strongly related to hydropetiod, defined as the average length of time an area is covered by water each year. The influence of sedimentation on tree growth is difficult to separate from the influence of hydroperiod because areas with high sedimentation rates typically have long hydroperiods. Estimated hydroperiod increased no more than 1 percent because of backwater from the highway crossings at the 11 study sites, while the estimated average depth of flood-plain inundation increased by an average of 6 percent.

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