Society of Wetland Scientists Professional Certification ProgramSociety of Wetland Scientists
Professional Certification Program

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Body Of Knowledge - 2015 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 2015 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
Answer Options12345AveCount
1) Knowledge of statistics43881867662.78399
2) Knowledge of general biology and ecology1017703114.73399
3) Knowledge of general and organic chemistry1666166133173.17398
4) Knowledge of general physics591181734272.55399
5) Knowledge of general calculus1391391041332398

Landscape and Watershed
Answer Options12345AveCount
6) Knowledge of watershed dynamics05641721584.21399
7) Ability to identify watershed boundaries011701451734.2399
8) Knowledge of watershed hydrology and water resources planning08861801224.05396
9) Ability to understand the concept of a floodplain, find a source for floodplain maps and understanding of relationship between waterways, wetlands and floodplains03351112484.52397
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 bodies1968157118373.22399
11) Knowledge of historic land use and land cover types321851531374399

Answer Options12345AveCount
12) Ability to identify geological and geomorphological features336119166723.68396
13) Knowledge of geochemical affects on soils, wetland hydrology, and plant communities1221051591073.89394
14) Ability to recognize location of local bedrock depth3710015880212.87396
15) Knowledge of the nature and impacts of natural seismic events and processes871571132772.26391
16) Knowledge of stratigraphy and soils and how they influence and are influenced by near-surface water movement4271041501093.85394
17) Knowledge of groundwater hydrology and how to locate water table(s)111541511794.25396
18) Ability to identify physiographic region and geological formations using state geological maps2567134119513.26396

Answer Options12345AveCount
19) Knowledge of basic soil science (e.g., soil morphology and taxonomy)112461292084.34396
20) Ability to describe a soil profile18411012454.47396
21) Ability to use soil color charts2323762894.65393
22) Knowledge of hydric soil indicator processes1118862864.67392
23) Ability to identify hydric soil indicators according to USDA NRCS manuals, regional soil indicator handbooks, and Regional Supplements to the Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual.2221593124.71396
24) Ability to use local soil surveys and/or locate and use soil survey data resources on the internet (e.g., Web Soil Survey)1739942534.5394
25) Ability to classify soils according to USDA classification1265124112833.48396
26) Knowledge of the interactions between soils and surface water, and soils and groundwater (water movement within, through, and over soils)16391531964.36395

Answer Options12345AveCount
27) Knowledge of wetland hydrology processes0111872994.72398
28) Ability to identify field indicators of wetland hydrology116483414.83397
29) Knowledge of groundwater hydrology concepts06661741504.18396
30) Ability to install, maintain, and interpret water table monitoring devices and data1358139129593.41398
31) Ability to estimate streamflow, baseflow and water budgets in order to classify streams accordingly as perennial, ephemeral, intermittent959123136693.5396
32) Knowledge and ability to estimate seasonal high and normal pool elevations in coastal and freshwater wetland systems or a waterway425801671213.95397
33) Ability to use WETS Tables to investigate wetland hydrology and mitigation wetland design.2973130114513.21397
34) Ability to use water budget calculations/models, such as WETBUD, Pierce & Gilbert, or WATBUG to investigate wetland hydrology and mitigation wetland design. 4510314381262.85398
35) Knowledge of projected regional/local rates of relative sea level rise from climate change for coastal wetland investigations.5911412572262.73396

Answer Options12345AveCount
36) Ability to identify plants to species level and determine their current USACE wetland indicator status1515643134.72398
37) Ability to identify and to differentiate plant community types1312703124.73398
38) Ability to measure plant species dominance1524902764.6396
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 zones13751571604.19396
40) Ability to identify wetland plant morphological adaptations19501322064.34398
41) Ability to determine dominant or contributing influencing factors on species occurrence (e.g., wetland hydrology vs. salinity)214811611404.06398
42) Knowledge of metabolic and adaptive physiological changes caused by prolonged soil saturation and inundation736110153923.72398

Fish and Wildlife
Answer Options12345AveCount
43) General knowledge of plant and animal kingdoms, and the ability to place organisms in proper taxonomic groups1134901341263.84395
44) Ability to identify fish and wildlife species, both terrestrial and those adapted to wetlands during some portion of their life history834118153813.67394
45) Knowledge of fisheries biology318118978162.92395
46) Ability to identify freshwater aquatic macroinvertebrates2887154101253.02395
47) Knowledge of and ability to formulate means to measure population dynamics6712113956112.55394

Protected and Invasive Species
Answer Options12345AveCount
48) Knowledge of current State and Federally listed regulations related to protected species426741411534.04398
49) Ability to obtain information related to the natural history of protected species and their habitat126801401504.04397
50) Ability to identify invasive species and general knowledge of their means of invasion and methods to manage319761501504.07398
51) Knowledge of management and control of protected and invasive species528124142963.75395

Ecology and Function
Answer Options12345AveCount
52) Knowledge of wetland ecology principles109862994.73395
53) Knowledge of the role of wetlands in nutrient cycling29681671494.14395
54) Knowledge of biogeochemical processes in wetlands218931601223.97395
55) Knowledge of the role of wetlands in wildlife habitat25511471904.31395

Classification and Assessment
Answer Options12345AveCount
56) Knowledge of wetland functional assessment methods311611451754.21395
57) Ability to use and interpret output from wetland assessment methods319591631514.11395
58) Ability to use the Highways Wetland Methodology (FHWM)629513480252.78396
59) Knowledge of Hydrogeomorphic (HGM) wetland classification & functional assessment2455122121723.41394
60) Knowledge of Evaluation of Planned Wetlands (EPW)569515379132.74396
61) Ability to use Wetland Evaluation Technique or equivalent (WET)518014991232.89394
62) Knowledge of Cowardin, et al wetland classification615531072134.28394
63) Knowledge of local/regional wetland assessment methods or rating systems314621391774.2395

Mapping/Imaging/Remote Sensing
Answer Options12345AveCount
64) Ability to identify the physical boundaries of a watershed on topographic maps and in the field011541441884.28397
65) Ability to use topographic maps and soils maps to identify potential wetland areas11171172594.6395
66) Ability to find and use Wetland maps, USFWS, EPA, state3331992614.54397
67) Ability to identify and classify wetlands using aerial photographs224601301814.17397
68) Ability to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to gather ecologically related information for purposes of identifying or managing wetland and watershed systems328981371313.92397
69) Ability to interpret remote sensing images/data (other than aerial photos, e.g., LiDAR)1238121148763.6395
70) Ability to use historic and current aerial photographs to detect changes in wetland, stream or water body signatures or land use practices39611501714.21394

Answer Options12345AveCount
71) Ability to identify and delineate a wetland using federal, and, if applicable, state and local methodologies2313563214.75395
72) Ability to define basic wetland delineation criteria, field indicators and methodology for delineation118533304.81393
73) Demonstrate knowledge of ACOE wetland delineation manual and regional supplements1630702864.61393
74) Demonstrate experience in field wetland delineation.3826642894.61390

Answer Options12345AveCount
75) 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 (ACOE/EPA Section 10) under current regulations and guidance714441022294.34396
76) 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.313421052344.4397
77) Knowledge of ACOE Regulatory Guidance Letters (RGLS)926841471313.92397
78) Knowledge of state and local wetland regulations2840982494.47397
79) Knowledge of the different Nationwide Permits (NWPs) versus Individual Permits827951251423.92397
80) Knowledge of the Clean Water Act and the regulatory responsibilities of federal agencies and state agencies under it613721331734.14397
81) Knowledge of National Environmental Policy Act1137137125853.6395
82) Knowledge of Endangered Species Act and the Cultural Resources Act, as well as other Acts and how they impact the Section 404 regulatory process9301181331053.75395
83) Knowledge of other federal/state/tribal regulations that have an effect on jurisdiction of wetlands and waters of the U.S.731901491173.86394

Environmental Impact Assessment
Answer Options12345AveCount
84) Knowledge of NEPA and its relationship to the Section 404 Program1044112156743.61396
85) Ability to identify human activities that impact wetlands and waterways45551521814.26397
86) Ability to describe alternatives to impacts or how to minimize impacts to wetlands312441222154.35396
87) Ability to name examples of water dependent projects.24401161141023.58396
88) Ability to design and conduct a monitoring protocol8211041401233.88396
89) Ability to prepare an Environmental Assessment document2852139102763.37397
90) Ability to prepare the Natural and Water resources sections of an Environmental Impact Statement1951112136783.51396

Wetland Compensatory Mitigation Restoration, Creation and Enhancement
Answer Options12345AveCount
91) Knowledge of federal, state and local government guidance regarding aquatic resource mitigation and compensation414601561624.16396
92) Ability to describe alternatives to impacts or how to minimize impacts to wetlands18611252034.31398
93) Knowledge of compensatory mitigation design and construction techniques620901471353.97398
94) Ability to develop and interpret a conceptual engineering and ecological design523981701023.86398
95) Ability to set up a multiple year monitoring plan for a mitigation site621931471313.94398
96) Ability to read and use an engineering plan419741311664.11394
97) Ability to generate a sketch of a cross section and plan view to express a wetland mitigation design grading plan10401131151193.74397
98) Knowledge of the professional skills required for wetland and stream mitigation design519781521414.03395
99) Ability to use and interpret data from monitoring tables519781531434.03398
100) Ability to interpret data from a graph67671241924.23396
101) Ability to develop a scope of work/plan for data gathering to develop a mitigation design8231031511133.85398
102) Use of water budget calculations in wetland creation/enhancement/restoration design.1236141143663.54398
103) Knowledge of current assessment/issues/problems in wetland mitigation design.621971581143.89396
104) Knowledge of climate change (greater extremes and projected regional changes in precipitation and temperature) in wetland mitigation design.327515497393.09397

Stream Assessment and Restoration
Answer Options12345AveCount
105) Knowledge of Stream Channel Assessment methodologies1059136127633.44395
106) Knowledge of Stream Classification Systems1343135130733.53394
107) Knowledge of the components necessary for a stable but Natural Stream Design1867141109593.31394
108) Knowledge of stream classification approaches/methods.1252141135533.42393
109) Knowledge of streamflow modeling methodologies3210615672272.89393
110) Knowledge of stormwater and erosion control best management practices (BMPs)163598149963.7394

Wetland Education
Answer Options12345AveCount
111) Ability to develop educational materials to inform the public about basic wetland science principles, wetland values, regulations as well as impact avoidance and minimization2754122115763.4394
112) Ability to develop basic curriculum for interesting people in other disciplines and important points about planning for projects around wetlands, wetland values, wetland impacts and wetland regulations.3864123114513.19390

Professional Ethics
Answer Options12345AveCount
113) Knowledge of Current Ethics Issues in Wetland Science39571262034.3398
114) Knowledge of the SWSPCP's Code of Ethics3953932394.4397
115) Knowledge of the importance of adhering to SWSPCP's Code of Ethics4740952504.46396
116) Knowledge of what to do when someone violates SWSPCP's Code of Ethics810731131944.19398

Answer Options12345AveCount
117) Experience in writing scientific papers for publication518915970282.84397
118) Experience in writing/preparing technical reports and papers717551311884.2398
119) Experience in presenting an oral presentation on Knowledge Points of wetland science and management1840134139653.49396
120) Knowledge of the scientific method and how to present data for publication18391121161123.67397
121) Ability to compile and organize a bibliography for scientific review3750130106753.33398
122) Knowledge of the peer review process2362150100603.28395
123) Knowledge of the current high quality technical journals and especially the Wetlands Journal1455135123693.45396
124) Experience in membership and active participation in professional societies and associations2651140109703.37396
125) Active participation in Continuing Professional Development courses, seminars, workshops, and conferences for currency in Professional Wetland Sciences.836721391433.94398
126) Experience in researching scientific publications related to wetland science2554141103733.37396

Wetland Law
Answer Options12345AveCount
127) Knowledge of how to provide Expert witness in legal proceedings469012198433.01398
128) Knowledge of recent legal decisions affecting wetlands/water regulations1634931331223.78398


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Society of Wetland Scientists Professional Certification Program
Last Updated 10/1/20