February 2024 Webinar - Ecology & Response of Sphagnum-dominated Peatlands in Western Washington to Landscape Stressors
Thursday, February 15, 2024 (1:00 PM - 2:00 PM) (EST)
Monthly webinars are offered as a benefit of membership. Once each quarter, in March, July, September, and December, the monthly SWS webinar is open for non-members to attend (and at no cost), as well.
Low elevation, Sphagnum-dominated peatlands in the Puget lowlands of western Washington have significant conservation value, are presumed to be sensitive to anthropogenic stressors, and require long time-scales for their development and potential restoration. Past and ongoing adjacent land uses have resulted in direct loss and ongoing degradation of their ecological integrity. Protection, management, and regulatory actions need to be tailored to the specific requirements of these Sphagnum-dominated peatlands to mitigate impacts and help protect these regionally rare wetlands. Understanding a peatland’s primary water source is critical to successful conservation, management, and restoration of these sensitive ecosystems. Although the term ‘bog’ is used to describe many peatlands in Washington State, only one published study has confirmed the presence of an ombrotrophic bog (i.e., rain-fed) in the state. Doubt remains as to how many of Washington’s “bogs” are solely rain-fed. A better understanding of water source(s) and potential effects of adjacent land use on these Sphagnum-dominated peatlands is needed to ensure that regulatory permitting, compensatory mitigation requirements and guidance, and voluntary restoration and conservation actions are effective. This presentation will share results of our efforts to determine the ombrotrophic status and correlations among the measures variables and surrounding land use intensity at 17 Sphagnum-dominated peatlands in the Puget lowlands. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of recommendations for improving conservation, management, and regulatory actions and watershed planning to better protect Sphagnum-dominated peatlands in the lowlands of western Washington.
Speaker: Joe Rocchio, M.Sc.
Joe Rocchio is the Program Manager for the Washington Dept. of Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Program. The Washington Natural Heritage Program connects conservation science with conservation actions by collecting, maintaining, and distributing data on rare species and ecosystems, as well as providing a number of other services and products in support of conservation in Washington. Joe served as the Program’s Vegetation Ecologist from 2007 to 2019, focusing his efforts on ecosystem classification, developing ecological integrity assessment tools, and identifying ecosystem conservation priorities. He developed a peatland classification for the state and has been leading inventory and research efforts to identify Washington’s exemplary peatland sites. Previously, Joe spent nine years as a wetland ecologist with the Colorado Natural Heritage Program where he conducted inventories for rare and high-quality wetlands. Joe has a B.S. in Environmental Science from Indiana University and M.S. in Ecosystem Analysis from the University of Washington.