U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Date of this Version



Lane, Charles R. and Ellen D’Amico, 2016. Identification of Putative Geographically Isolated Wetlands of the Conterminous United States. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 52(3):705-722. DOI: 10.1111/1752-1688.12421


U.S. government work.


Geographically isolated wetlands (GIWs) are wetlands completely surrounded by uplands. While common throughout the United States (U.S.), there have heretofore been no nationally available, spatially explicit estimates of GIW extent, complicating efforts to understand the myriad biogeochemical, hydrological, and habitat functions of GIWs and hampering conservation and management efforts at local, state, and national scales. We used a 10-m geospatial buffer as a proxy for hydrological or ecological connectivity of National Wetlands Inventory palustrine and lacustrine wetland systems to nationally mapped and available stream, river, and lake data. We identified over 8.3 million putative GIWs across the conterminous U.S., encompassing nearly 6.5 million hectares of wetland resources (average size 0.79 +/- 4.81 ha, median size 0.19 ha). Putative GIWs thus represent approximately 16% of the freshwater wetlands of the conterminous U.S. The water regime for the majority of the putative GIWs was temporarily or seasonally flooded, suggesting a vulnerability to ditching or hydrologic abstraction, sedimentation, or alterations in precipitation patterns. Additional analytical applications of this readily available geospatially explicit mapping product (e.g., hydrological modeling, amphibian metapopulation, or landscape ecological analyses) will improve our understanding of the abundance and extent, effect, connectivity, and relative importance of GIWs to other aquatic systems of the conterminous U.S.