, Volume 541, Issue 1, pp 175–188

Aquatic macroinvertebrate assemblages in mitigated and natural wetlands


  • Collin K. Balcombe
    • Division of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries ResourcesWest Virginia University
    • Division of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries ResourcesWest Virginia University
  • Ronald H. Fortney
    • Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringWest Virginia University
  • Walter S. Kordek
    • West Virginia Division of Natural Resources

DOI: 10.1007/s10750-004-5706-1

Cite this article as:
Balcombe, C.K., Anderson, J.T., Fortney, R.H. et al. Hydrobiologia (2005) 541: 175. doi:10.1007/s10750-004-5706-1


Many wetlands have been constructed in West Virginia as mitigation for a variety of human disturbances, but no comprehensive evaluation on their success has been conducted. Macroinvertebrates are extremely valuable components of functioning wetland ecosystems. As such, benthic and water column invertebrate communities were chosen as surrogates for wetland function in the evaluation of 11 mitigation and 4 reference wetlands in West Virginia. Mitigation wetlands ranged in age from 4 to 21 years old. Overall familial richness, diversity, density and biomass were similar between mitigation and reference wetlands (p > 0.05). Within open water habitats, total benthic invertebrate density was higher in reference wetlands, but mass of common taxa from water column samples was higher in mitigation wetlands (p < 0.05) Planorbidae density from benthic samples in emergent habitats was higher in reference than mitigated wetlands. Benthic Oligochaeta density was higher across open water habitats in mitigation wetlands. All other benthic taxa were similar between wetland types. Among the most common water column orders, Isopoda density was higher in reference wetlands, but Physidae density was higher in mitigation wetlands. Within mitigation wetlands, emergent areas contained higher richness and diversity than open areas. These data indicate that mitigation and reference wetlands generally support similar invertebrate assemblages, especially among benthic populations. The few observed differences are likely attributable to differences in vegetative community composition and structure. Mitigation wetlands currently support abundant and productive invertebrate communities, and as such, provide quality habitat for wetland dependent wildlife species, especially waterbirds and anurans.


macroinvertebratesinvertebratesmitigation wetlandwetland constructionwetlandswildlife

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© Springer 2005