Assessing Wetland Restoration on the Delmarva Peninsula using Vegetation Characteristics
McFarland, Eliza Katherine
Baldwin, Andrew H
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With wetland restoration, post-restoration monitoring is essential for determining developmental trajectories, particularly when comparing to natural reference systems. As part of the Mid-Atlantic Conservation Effects Assessment Project, 15 depressional wetlands on the Delmarva Peninsula of Maryland and Delaware were surveyed for above-ground vegetation and seed bank community composition, annual biomass production, and vegetation carbon content (10 restorations from prior-converted cropland (aged 5-31 years), and 5 natural forested depressions). Within each wetland, hydrologic zones (emergent, transition, upland) were also denoted and sampled. Restored wetlands showed more seed bank community similarity to natural wetlands than above-ground vegetation communities. Restorations also produced more annual herbaceous biomass than natural systems, and lower annual leaf litter biomass. After this period of post-restoration development, restored wetlands do not perform vegetation-related functions identical to their natural counterparts; however, these restorations are performing important vegetation-based functions that require yet more time to truly develop.