Development of community metrics to evaluate recovery of Minnesota wetlands

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Monitoring wetland recovery requires assessment tools that efficiently and reliably discern ecosystem changes in response to changes in land use. The biological indicator approach pioneered for rivers and streams that uses changes in species assemblages to interpret degradation levels may be a promising monitoring approach for wetlands. We explored how well metrics based on species assemblages related to land use patterns for eight kinds of wetlands in Minnesota. We evaluated land use on site and within 500 m,1000 m, 2500 m and 5000 m of riverine, littoral, and depressional wetlands (n = 116) in three ecoregions. Proportion of agriculture, urban, grassland, forest,and water were correlated with metrics developed from plant, bird, fish, invertebrate, and amphibian community data collected from field surveys. We found79 metrics that relate to land use, including five that may be useful for many wetlands: proportion of wetland birds, wetland bird richness, proportion of insectivorous birds, importance of Carex, importance of invasive perennials. Since very few metrics were significant for even one-half of the wetland types surveyed, our data suggest that monitoring recovery in wetlands with community indicators will likely require different metrics,depending on type and ecoregion. In addition, wetlands within extensively degraded ecoregions may be most problematic for indicator development because biotic degradation is historic and severe.