Groundwater dependent wetlands
Centre for Ecosystem Management / School of Science
The relative importance of groundwater in the development and maintenance of hydrological and ecological character is recognized as an important feature that distinguishes so-called “groundwater-dependent” wetlands. A categorisation is presented here according to three types of groundwater dependent ecosystems (1: subterranean or cave; 2: surface expressions of groundwater discharge; and 3: ecosystems dependent on subsurface presence of groundwater). Beyond these, we recognise eight degrees of dependence based on ecology-hydrology linkages that make explicit the hydrology, biology, soil/sediment/rock relationships arranged in increasing requirement for groundwater permanence (from intermittent to seasonal to permanent, and (soil) moisture to saturation). The classification is applied to situations where groundwater wetlands have become subject to changing hydrological conditions.