Society of Wetland Scientists Professional Certification ProgramSociety of Wetland Scientists Professional Certification ProgramSociety of Wetland Scientists
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Body Of Knowledge - 2021 Survey

The Professional Certification Program (PCP) of the SWS is accredited by the Council of Engineering & Science Specialty Boards (CESB). CESB accreditation requires that the PCP create and maintain a Body of Knowledge (document) that outlines specific skills, knowledge, and abilities that a Professional Wetland Scientist should possess. The Body of Knowledge (BoK) must be solicited from all who are certified by the program and be updated every five years. The BoK is a living guidance document for knowledge and skill requirements to be used by the PCP Certification Review Panel in assessing an applicant's experience towards certification as a Professional Wetland Scientist.

The Certification Standards Committee developed a questionnaire that was sent to all PWSs. The questionnaire consisted of a list of skills, abilities and knowledge all PWSs could potentially possess in order to be certified as a Professional. All PWSs were asked to rank each area relative to their importance for being a certified Professional Wetland Scientist. Ranking was from 1 to 5, with 1 being not important and 5 being most important.

The survey results given here represent the full current assessment of the PWS Body of Knowledge as of 2021 to be updated in five years. These results will be developed into a hierarchy of knowledge and skills used by the Certification Review Panel as part of an objective method to assess an applicant's experience.

Ratings are 1 being not important to 5 being most important.

General Science
Knowledge Points12345AveCount
1) Knowledge of statistics276111544132.83260
2) Knowledge of general biology and ecology1210491984.7260
3) Knowledge of general and organic chemistry134510682143.15260
4) Knowledge of general physics27921073222.58260
5) Knowledge of general calculus9194641101.98260

Landscape and Watershed
Knowledge Points12345AveCount
6) Knowledge of watershed dynamics010391041074.18260
7) Ability to identify watershed boundaries2649931104.17260
8) Knowledge of watershed hydrology and water resources planning31750105833.96258
9) Ability to understand the concept of a floodplain, find a source for floodplain maps and understanding of relationship between waterways, wetlands and floodplains1418751624.51260
10) Ability to identify climate induced stresses, including climate change (greater extremes and projected regional changes in precipitation and temperature) on the watershed and their impacts to wetlands, streams and water bodies10248097483.58259
11) Knowledge of historic land use and land cover types41257100853.97258

Knowledge Points12345AveCount
12) Ability to identify geological and geomorphological features2239680563.64257
13) Knowledge of geochemical affects on soils, wetland hydrology, and plant communities01865112623.85257
14) Ability to recognize location of local bedrock depth29719051172.83258
15) Knowledge of the nature and impacts of natural seismic events and processes5484902072.38255
16) Knowledge of stratigraphy and soils and how they influence and are influenced by near-surface water movement4286091743.79257
17) Knowledge of groundwater hydrology and how to locate water table(s)11548831104.11257
18) Ability to identify physiographic region and geological formations using geological maps73610867393.37257

Knowledge Points12345AveCount
19) Knowledge of basic soil science (e.g., soil morphology and taxonomy)1521951384.4260
20) Ability to describe a soil profile2420741604.48260
21) Ability to use soil color charts3314511894.62260
22) Knowledge of hydric soil indicator processes069541894.65258
23) Ability to identify hydric soil indicators according to national guidance such as, in the United States, USDA NRCS manuals, regional soil indicator handbooks, and Regional Supplements to the Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual.1318451934.64260
24) Ability to use local soil surveys and/or locate and use soil survey data resources on the internet (e.g., Web Soil Survey)3322611674.51256
25) Ability to classify soils according to national classifications such as in the United States the USDA classification.7269077593.6259
26) Knowledge of the interactions between soils and surface water, and soils and groundwater (water movement within, through, and over soils)1432931274.33257

Knowledge Points12345AveCount
27) Knowledge of wetland hydrology processes0215451974.69259
28) Ability to identify field indicators of wetland hydrology107312194.81258
29) Knowledge of groundwater hydrology concepts03471011064.21257
30) Ability to install, maintain, and interpret water table monitoring devices and data20338689303.29258
31) Ability to estimate streamflow, baseflow and water budgets to classify streams accordingly as perennial, ephemeral, intermittent.9237595563.64258
32) Knowledge and ability to estimate seasonal high and normal pool elevations in coastal and freshwater wetland systems or a waterway4155397893.98258
33) Ability to use techniques to investigate wetland hydrology and mitigation wetland design such as WETS Tables and Antecedent Precipitation Tool (APT), commonly used in the United States.10296192663.68258
34) Ability to use water budget calculations/models, or other science-based industry approved models to investigate wetland hydrology and mitigation wetland design.142910380333.34259
35) Knowledge of projected regional/local rates of relative sea level rise from climate change for coastal wetland investigations.304610255253258

Knowledge Points12345AveCount
36) Ability to identify plants to species level and determine their current wetland indicator status using approaches such as the USACE wetland plant lists used in the United States2418491874.6260
37) Ability to identify and to differentiate plant community types1113501954.68260
38) Ability to measure plant species dominance2421511774.56255
39) Ability to develop and execute an efficient plan for monitoring components of natural or created wetland systems in accordance with regulatory requirements or for establishing changes in wetlands/uplands/transition zones9751811104.07258
40) Ability to identify wetland plant morphological adaptations6934871234.2259
41) Ability to determine dominant or contributing influencing factors on species occurrence (e.g., wetland hydrology vs. salinity)885199944.01260
42) Knowledge of metabolic and adaptive physiological changes caused by prolonged soil saturation and inundation12256691623.65256

Fish and Wildlife
Knowledge Points12345AveCount
43) General knowledge of plant and animal kingdoms, and the ability to place organisms in proper taxonomic groups6107095773.88258
44) Ability to identify fish and wildlife species, both terrestrial and those adapted to wetlands during some portion of their life history5889102513.73255
45) Knowledge of fisheries biology15701204492.85258
46) Ability to identify freshwater aquatic macroinvertebrates134610861283.18256
47) Knowledge of and ability to formulate means to measure population dynamics4276973482.57257

Protected and Invasive Species
Knowledge Points12345AveCount
48) Knowledge of current National/State/Provincial/Territorial regulations related to protected species3146091853.95253
49) Ability to obtain information related to the natural history of protected species and their habitat3126189873.97252
50) Ability to identify invasive species and general knowledge of their means of invasion and methods to manage665199914.04253
51) Knowledge of management and control of protected and invasive species5167398603.76252

Ecology and Function
Knowledge Points12345AveCount
52) Knowledge of wetland ecology principles1011491934.7254
53) Knowledge of the role of wetlands in nutrient cycling1452104934.12254
54) Knowledge of biogeochemical processes in wetlands including carbon sequestration5166099733.87253
55) Knowledge of the role of wetlands in wildlife habitat1518991304.39253

Classification and Assessment
Knowledge Points12345AveCount
56) Knowledge of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Wetland Classification42498856172.83252
57) Knowledge of wetland functional assessment methods2104199994.13251
58) Ability to use and interpret output from wetland assessment methods31335109884.07248
59) Ability to determine wetland functions and values using approaches such as the Highways Wetland Methodology (FHWM) used in the United States16247282553.55249
60) Knowledge of Hydrogeomorphic (HGM) wetland classification & functional assessment15206582703.68252
61) Knowledge of approaches to assess the replacement of wetland function such as the Evaluation of Planned Wetlands (EPW) used in the United States21319079283.25249
62) Ability to use Wetland Evaluation Technique (WET) or equivalent methodologies to assess wetland functions14288275533.5252
63) Knowledge of Cowardin, et al or other accepted wetland classification systems 5838681334.25252
64) Knowledge of local/regional wetland assessment methods or rating systems4951751124.12251
65) Ability to undertake a wetland ecosystem service/benefit assessments such as the Rapid Assessment of Wetland Ecosystem Services technique11187885603.65252
66) Ability to undertake a wetland benefits economic evaluation 305311442122.81251

Mapping/Imaging/Remote Sensing
Knowledge Points12345AveCount
67) Ability to identify the physical boundaries of a watershed on topographic maps and in the field1936771294.29252
68) Ability to use topographic maps and soils maps to identify potential wetland areas1112631734.62250
69) Ability to find and use wetland maps, and other relevant State/Provincial/Territorial/National mapping datasets such as in the United States USFWS and EPA resources2524751444.42250
70) Ability to identify and classify wetlands using aerial photographs4645961004.12251
71) Ability to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to gather ecologically related information for purposes of identifying or managing wetland and watershed systems1146584863.96250
72) Ability to interpret remote sensing images/data (other than aerial photos, e.g., LiDAR)8146685783.84251
73) Ability to use historic and current aerial photographs to detect changes in wetland, stream or water body signatures or land use practices2240881194.27251
74) Knowledge of the discipline of Geomatics* in recognizing wetlands as an integral part of most global landscapes30527255423.11251

Knowledge Points12345AveCount
75) Ability to identify and delineate a wetland using national, federal, and, if applicable, State/Provincial and local methodologies3115401924.66251
76) Ability to define basic wetland delineation criteria, field indicators and methodology for delineation2210312054.74250
77) Demonstrate knowledge of national wetland delineation guidance and manuals, such as, in the United States, USACE manuals and regional supplements, Automated Wetland Determination Data Regional Forms, and relevant guidance4123451784.56251
78) Demonstrate experience in field wetland delineation.3428401754.52250

Knowledge Points12345AveCount
79) Knowledge of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the obligations of Contracting Parties46639138142.65252
80) Knowledge of national, state, provincial and local wetland regulations relevant to your jurisdictional area3119531724.57248
81) Specific to the United States - Ability to differentiate between a jurisdictional and a non-jurisdictional wetland and wetland (Army Corps of Engineers/Environmental Protection Agency Section 404) other non-wetland Waters of the US (USACE/EPA Section 10) under current regulations and guidance3839671354.28252
82) Specific to the United States - Knowledge of terms related to USACE jurisdiction, like Navigable waters, Traditional Navigable Waters, contiguous, adjacency, isolated, connected, normal circumstances, atypical situations, water dependency, fill, dredge, activities, structures, sufficient nexus, etc.4928771334.3251
83) Specific to the United States - Knowledge of USACE Regulatory Guidance Letters (RGLS)6156869923.9250
84) Specific to the United States - Knowledge of the different Nationwide Permits (NWPs) versus Individual Permit41563651054252
85) Specific to the United States - Knowledge of the Clean Water Act and the regulatory responsibilities of Federal agencies and State/Provincial/Territorial/National agencies under it3335861234.29250
86) Specific to the United States - Knowledge of National Environmental Policy Act5286583663.72247
87) Specific to the United States - Knowledge of Endangered Species Act and the Cultural Resources Act, as well as other Acts and how they impact the Section 404 regulatory process2215991783.88251
88) Specific to the United States - Knowledge of other Federal/State/Provincial/tribal regulations that influence jurisdiction of wetlands and waters of the U.S.3145082984.04247

Environmental Impact Assessment
Knowledge Points12345AveCount
89) Knowledge of national Environmental Impact Assessment regulation, for example in the USA knowledge of NEPA and its relationship to the Section 404 Program8298680453.5248
90) Ability to identify human activities that impact wetlands and waterways31361031074.24250
91) Ability to describe alternatives to impacts or how to minimize impacts to wetlands4235901194.27250
92) Ability to name examples of water dependent projects.17147573693.66248
93) Ability to design and conduct a monitoring protocol15166377763.74247
94) Ability to prepare an Environmental Assessment document16438262463.32249
95) Ability to prepare the Natural and Water resources sections of an Environmental Impact Statement13297972573.52250

Wetland Compensatory Mitigation Restoration, Creation and Enhancement
Knowledge Points12345AveCount
96) Knowledge of National, Federal, State/Provincial/Territorial and local government guidance regarding aquatic resource mitigation and compensation 864994934.03250
97) Ability to describe alternatives to impacts or how to minimize impacts to wetlands3336801284.31250
98) Knowledge of compensatory mitigation design and construction techniques896678873.92248
99) Ability to develop and interpret a conceptual engineering and ecological design11226782673.69249
100) Ability to set up a multiple year monitoring plan for a mitigation site14126193703.77250
101) Ability to read and use an engineering plan7146174933.93249
102) Ability to generate a sketch of a cross section and plan view to express a wetland mitigation design grading plan17237568663.57249
103) Knowledge of the professional skills required for wetland and stream mitigation design1266990733.82250
104) Ability to use and interpret data from monitoring tables596588833.94250
105) Ability to interpret data from a graph4234831264.31249
106) Ability to develop a scope of work/plan for data gathering to develop a mitigation design16157877633.63249
107) Use of water budget calculations in wetland creation/enhancement/restoration design.14328970443.39249
108) Knowledge of current assessment/issues/problems in wetland mitigation design.12117587643.72249
109) Knowledge of climate change (greater extremes and projected regional changes in precipitation and temperature) in wetland mitigation design.13408277353.33247

Stream Assessment and Restoration
Knowledge Points12345AveCount
110) Knowledge of Stream Channel Assessment methodologies6208977583.64250
111) Knowledge of Stream Classification Systems3137590693.84250
112) Knowledge of the components necessary for a stable but Natural Stream Design173210071313.27251
113) Knowledge of stream classification approaches/methods.5208794453.61251
114) Knowledge of streamflow modeling methodologies216010841172.89247
115) Knowledge of stormwater and erosion control best management practices (BMPs)6207084683.76248

Wetland Education
Knowledge Points12345AveCount
116) Ability to develop educational materials to inform the public about basic wetland science principles, wetland values, regulations as well as impact avoidance and minimization12319180373.39251
117) Ability to develop basic curriculum to inform individuals in other disciplines regarding important points which should be considered in planning for projects around wetlands, resources, values, impacts, regulations and mitigation. 12499159403.26251
118) Ability to undertake stakeholder consultation in relation to a wetland project10207291583.67251
119) Ability to undertake a stakeholder conflict resolution process in relation to a wetland project13358176453.42250
120) Ability to undertake community engagement in relation to a wetland project11378475433.41250

Professional Ethics
Knowledge Points12345AveCount
121) Knowledge of Current Ethics Issues in Wetland Science8536651374.27251
122) Knowledge of the SWSPCP's Code of Ethics8418561644.46250
123) Knowledge of the importance of adhering to SWSPCP's Code of Ethics5416551724.53252
124) Knowledge of what to do when someone violates SWSPCP's Code of Ethics6940641314.22250

Knowledge Points12345AveCount
125) Experience in writing scientific papers for publication27628547302.96251
126) Experience in writing/preparing technical reports and papers7930851204.2251
127) Experience in presenting an oral presentation on Knowledge Points of wetland science and management13327286453.48248
128) Knowledge of the scientific method and how to present data for publication8235479863.85250
129) Ability to compile and organize a bibliography for scientific review15307573583.51251
130) Knowledge of the peer review process12288177523.52250
131) Knowledge of the current high quality technical journals and especially the Wetlands Journal15307978493.46251
132) Membership in and active participation in professional societies and associations13208373623.6251
133) Active participation in Continuing Professional Development courses, seminars, webinars, workshops, and conferences for currency in Professional Wetland Sciences.7115481984251
134) Experience in researching scientific publications related to wetland science13316580613.58250

Wetland Law
Knowledge Points12345AveCount
135) Knowledge of how to provide Expert witness in legal proceedings244310350313.08251
136) Knowledge of recent legal decisions affecting wetlands/water regulations13166276813.79248


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Society of Wetland Scientists Professional Certification Program
Last Updated 11/18/21