The hydrogeomorphic (HGM) wetland assessment method has been developed to provide a much-needed, ecologically-sound means for classifying, assessing, and comparing wetland hydrodynamics and related functions. A first step in using the HGM is the identification of ‘biogeographical regions’ to characterize regional wetland subclasses. I found no attempts to test existing ecoregions or other subclassification methods in the glaciated Great Lakes basin for use with HGM. Two subclassification methods are tested here. One ecosystem classification (based on geology, climate, topography, and other large-scale variables) is compared with a method based solely on the permeability of underlying glacial deposits. Water-level fluctuation, conductivity, and alkalinity were monitored for three years to determine whether differences in hydrodynamics and water chemistry existed between depressional wetlands using either subclassification method. The hydrodynamics of inland wetlands differed significantly between subclasses based on either method. The permeability-based subclasses were also effective in differentiating wetland water chemistry. Aspects of the ecosystem classification, however, provided additional information not accounted for by the permeability-based method. Thus, the ecosystem classification provides better biogeographical regions for use with HGM in the glaciated Great Lakes basin.
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Vol. 26 • No. 2