Date of Award

Fall 2010

Document Type

Legacy Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies


Coastal and Marine Systems Science


College of Science

First Advisor

John J. Hutchens, Jr.

Second Advisor

Kevin S. Godwin

Third Advisor

James O. Luken


More than fifteen years since its inception, the hydrogeomorphic (HGM) approach has yet to be widely used as a method of wetland functional assessment. One way to advance the HGM approach is to share guidebooks or certain functions for similar regions. The regional guidebook developed by Uranowski et al. (2003) was designed for blackwater riverine wetlands in Florida. I examined if this guidebook could detect a difference between impacted and unimpacted blackwater riverine wetlands along the Waccamaw River near Conway, SC. Independent measures of hydrology, chemistry, plant assemblage composition, and relative elevation were also assessed for correlation with selected HGM functions. The hydrogeomorphic approach detected a marginal overall difference (p = 0.080) with impacted wetlands scoring lower than unimpacted. Four of eight functions, "temporarily store surface water," "retain particulates," "export organic carbon," and "cycle nutrients," and three of twenty-two variables, VSLOPE, VWTSLOPE, and VWD differed significantly between classes. Although no significant correlations between HGM functions and independent measurements were detected, both methods found the same sites to be the most different which supported the HGM approach. Five of the eight HGM functions scored lower in impacted wetlands, which suggests that HGM detected functional differences. Also, the majority of HGM results were within the range of function suggested in the guidebook. Overall, I concluded that the Florida HGM may be transferred to the blackwater riverine wetlands of South Carolina, but some constituents may need to be either reconsidered or modified.