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Lytton John Musselman, an Old Dominion University botanist, has been appointed to a national committee that will help delineate wetlands by offering expert opinions about plants that can be considered wetland plants.

He has been appointed to the 17-member National Technical Committee for Hydrophytic Vegetation, which will have its organizational meeting in February.

The Mary Payne Hogan Professor of Botany and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at ODU, Musselman is one of four academics on the committee. Other members represent national agencies with mandates to protect wetlands: the Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Resources Conservation Service of the Department of Agriculture, the Forestry Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

Most wetlands have hydric soils with physical and chemical indicators of saturation or inundation at or near the surface. Hydrophytic vegetation grows in these soils, and the prevalence of these plants in a land area can define the area as wetlands.

"This is important work and I consider it an honor to be appointed," Musselman said. He was consulted by federal agencies two decades ago when wetland indicator plants were being catalogued for environmental protection purposes. The new committee will help determine indicator status of problematic species and tackle broader questions concerning the ways vegetation may delineate wetlands.

This article was posted on: January 4, 2007

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