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Differences in aquatic communities between wetlands created by an agricultural water recycling system


Establishment of an agricultural water recycling system known as the wetland reservoir subirrigation system (WRSIS) results in the creation of two different types of wetlands adjacent to agricultural fields. Each WRSIS consists of one treatment wetland designed to process agricultural contaminants (WRSIS wetlands) and one storage wetland for holding subirrigation water (WRSIS reservoirs). Previous WRSIS related research has focused on the filtration ability and development of aquatic plants within WRSIS wetlands. The fauna of the WRSIS reservoirs and how its aquatic community structure compares with WRSIS wetlands is unknown. We compared fish, amphibian, and reptile community structure between WRSIS wetlands and reservoirs in northwestern Ohio. Fishes, amphibians, and reptiles were sampled by seining, hoop netting, and gee minnow trapping in three WRSIS wetlands and three WRSIS reservoirs in June of 2006, 2007, and 2008. No difference in species richness, abundance, percent fish, percent reptiles, fish abundance, or reptile abundance occurred between the smaller shallower WRSIS wetlands and the deeper larger WRSIS reservoirs. Percent amphibians and amphibian abundance was greater in WRSIS wetlands than reservoirs. Jaccard’s index scores ranged from 0 to 0.5 and indicated species composition differed between WRSIS wetlands and reservoirs. Our results assisted with the development of design and management criteria incorporating wetland size, hydrology, and upland habitat intended to enable WRSIS wetlands to function primarily as amphibian habitat and the reservoirs to function as fish habitat.

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We thank S. Knight, M. Lemke, H. Gottgens, and two anonymous reviewers for reviewing an earlier draft of this manuscript and providing helpful comments. S. Boone, D. Gamble, A. Rapp, R. Shaw, and D. Woner assisted with field sampling. We are also grateful for all other USDA-ARS personnel that assisted with the water chemistry analyses and logistical support. N. Fausey provided information on the previous WRSIS ecology research and L. Brown provided information on other WRSIS located in throughout the midwestern United States, Canada, and China. We are thankful for the site information provided by B. Clevenger, G. Prill, and G. LaBarge with the Ohio State University Extension Service and the Van Wert, Fulton, and Defiance Counties Natural Resources Conservation Service and Soil and Water Districts. We also thank the landowners for granting us permission to sample these sites.

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Correspondence to Peter C. Smiley Jr..

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Smiley, P.C., Allred, B.J. Differences in aquatic communities between wetlands created by an agricultural water recycling system. Wetlands Ecol Manage 19, 495–505 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11273-011-9231-5

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  • Fishes
  • Amphibians
  • Reptiles
  • Wetland creation
  • Agriculture
  • Subirrigation