Wetlands in changed landscapes: The influence of habitat transformation on the physico-chemistry of temporary depression wetlands

Matthew S. Bird, Jenny A. Day

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Temporary wetlands dominate the wet season landscape of temperate, semi-arid and arid regions, yet, other than their direct loss to development and agriculture, little information exists on how remaining wetlands have been altered by anthropogenic conversion of surrounding landscapes. This study investigates relationships between the extent and type of habitat transformation around temporary wetlands and their water column physico-chemical characteristics. A set of 90 isolated depression wetlands (seasonally inundated) occurring on coastal plains of the south-western Cape mediterraneanclimate region of South Africa was sampled during the winter/spring wet season of 2007. Wetlands were sampled across habitat transformation gradients according to the areal cover of agriculture, urban development and alien invasive vegetation within 100 and 500 m radii of each wetland edge. We hypothesized that the principal drivers of physicochemical conditions in these wetlands (e.g. soil properties, basin morphology) are altered by habitat transformation. Multivariate multiple regression analyses (distance-based Redundancy Analysis) indicated significant associations between wetland physico-chemistry and habitat transformation (overall transformation within 100 and 500 m, alien vegetation cover within 100 and 500 m, urban cover within 100 m); although for significant regressions the amount of variation explained was very low (range: ∼2 to ∼5.5%), relative to that explained by purely spatio-temporal factors (range: ∼35.5 to ∼43%). The nature of the relationships between each type of transformation in the landscape and individual physico-chemical variables in wetlands were further explored with univariate multiple regressions. Results suggest that conservation of relatively narrow (∼100 m) buffer strips around temporary wetlands is likely to be effective in the maintenance of natural conditions in terms of physico-chemical water quality.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere88935
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Multidisciplinary


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