US Geological Survey


Date of this Version


Citation 1470-160X/ © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


U.S. Government


Establishing the connectivity among depressional wetlands is important for their proper management, conservation and restoration. In this study, the concentrations of 38 elements in surface water and porewater of depressional wetlands were investigated to determine chemical and hydrological connectivity of three hydrological types: recharge, flow-through, and discharge, in the Prairie Pothole Region of North America. Most element concentrations of porewater varied significantly by wetland hydrologic type (p < 0.05), and increased along a recharge to discharge hydrologic gradient. Significant spatial variation of element concentrations in surface water was observed in discharge wetlands. Generally, higher element concentrations occurred in natural wetlands compared to wetlands with known disturbances (previous drainage and grazing). Electrical conductivity explained 42.3% and 30.5% of the variation of all element concentrations in porewater and surface water. Non-metric multidimensional scaling analysis showed that the similarity decreased from recharge to flowthrough to discharge wetland in each sampling site. Cluster analysis confirmed that element compositions in porewater of interconnected wetlands were more similar to each other than to those of wetlands located farther away. Porewater and surface water in a restored wetland showed similar multi-element characteristics to natural wetlands. In contrast, depressional wetlands connected by seeps along a deactivated drain-tile path and a grazed wetland showed distinctly different multi-element characteristics compared to other wetlands sampled. Our findings confirm that the multi-element fingerprinting method can be useful for assessing hydro-chemical connectivity across the landscape, and indicate that element concentrations are not only affected by land use, but also by hydrological characteristics.