Herrick Aquatic Ecology Research Facility | Kent State University

Herrick Aquatic Ecology Research Facility


The HAERF was built on the KSU campus in 2001. It includes 10 independently flooded wetland basins (total area: 2000 m²), a 1000 m² stream pool habitat and ~2000 m² of terrestrial habitat around the perimeter of the wetlands. The wetlands have been used since 2002 to conduct population and community-level experiments under natural environmental conditions. Equipment at the HAERF includes a weather station (Davis Inc., Hayward, CA), a water chemistry data sonde (YSI, Yellow Springs, Ohio) in the stream pool, and water level loggers (Global Water, Gold River, CA) in each basin. A chain-link fence, electric floodlights and a locked gate provide security for long-term experiments.

The HAERF was built in an upland field at the edge of a ~3 acre wooded area. It is surrounded by stands of hardwood trees and a field with herbaceous plants and shrubs. A 2nd-order perennial creek flows through the site. The ten 10 m x 20 m wetland basins are built around the 100 m X 10 m stream pool that was created with a 2-m high concrete dam. The stream pool is the water source for the wetland basins. Each wetland basin has a separate inlet and outlet water control structure, and each basin can be flooded and drained independently from the others (Figure 1).

The HAERF is an ideal facility to test hypotheses on effects of hydrology on wetland functions. First, we can manipulate the hydrology of 10 large replicated wetland basins along a headwater creek. Therefore, our experiments are conducted under controlled conditions that eliminate most potential confounding variables that often occur between wetlands (e.g., geomorphology, land use, size). The large size of our wetlands also allows us to test community-level interactions of invertebrates and plants that would not be possible in small-scale experiments (i.e., microcosms). Moreover, many plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates have already colonized from nearby habitats, creating diverse species assemblages that are representative of floodplain wetlands in northeastern Ohio. Therefore, information from experiments at this facility is applicable to other low-order systems. Future experiments will build on the results of our ongoing projects, and we will gain a comprehensive understanding of how hydrologic factors define community structure, and ultimately, ecosystem-level processes in floodplain wetlands.