Comparison of geochemical and biological characteristics of natural and constructed wetlands in Western NY

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Title: Comparison of geochemical and biological characteristics of natural and constructed wetlands in Western NY
Author: Scheiner, Katrina
Abstract: To protect wetlands and the critical ecosystem functions and services they provide, federal law mandates creation of new wetlands for wetlands that are destroyed. However, we don't yet fully understand if created wetlands are functionally equivalent to their natural counterparts. In this study of two natural (N1, N2) and two created (C1, C2) wetlands in western New York state, interdependent biological and geochemical characteristics were measured to assess equivalency of ecosystem function. With the exception of Typha sp, all wetlands contained unique vegetation zones. We sampled within these vegetation zones during the growing season of 2010. Overall cover of plant invasive species increased over the growing season, while native plants decreased, indicating a similar susceptibility to invasion. Invertebrate densities were very low and without within or between marsh trends. Differences in soil properties among wetlands did not fall out as a factor of wetland age, as N1 and C2 were similar and N2 and C1 were similar in terms of soil organic matter (OM) and phosphorus and there was a significant correlation between soil organic phosphorus and OM across all wetlands. Typha zones in the created wetlands tended to have low OM, but a significant relationship between vegetation type and OM was observed only at C1. When exposed to both ambient and high pulses of water column nitrate and phosphate, all wetlands showed an initial surge uptake of phosphate, followed by a more sustained flux. All wetlands were a phosphate sink, but only N1 was a consistent sink for both nitrate and phosphate. The significant differences that existed among the four wetlands suggest that the measured variables potentially have the greatest impact on overall ecosystem function. Overall, the created wetlands fell within the range of the natural wetlands for all tested parameters, suggesting similar structure and function in spite of the differences in age.
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Date: 2011-05-13

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