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Ecological Analysis Before and After Planting in a Constructed Wetland in the Adirondacks

Abstract

The assessment of constructed treatment wetland success usually relies on abiotic measures, such as nutrient level reduction. Because constructed wetlands eventually function as whole ecosystems, and their biotic components play a role in water treatment, it is important to consider the development of associated flora and fauna when conducting site assessments. The goal of this two-year case study was to observe ecosystem establishment at a constructed stormwater treatment wetland adjacent to Lake George in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, with a focus on macroinvertebrate and vegetation community development. The first year of the study occurred during a period of natural succession. The second year occurred following the artificial introduction of 85 plant species. The vegetation community predictably improved in richness, evenness, and diversity. The macroinvertebrate community experienced substantial shifts in dominant taxa. Importantly, each pond in the wetland’s treatment train developed unique profiles over time as defined by their vegetation and macroinvertebrate communities, as well as by their water chemistry. While the specific biotic and abiotic drivers creating these unique ponds have not been identified, the disparate profiles and how they function together will determine stormwater treatment efficiency after further site maturation.

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Acknowledgments

The majority of this study was funded by the Helen V. Froehlich Foundation with additional contributions from the Northeast Aquatic Plant Management Society. We would like to thank Dr. Toby Michelena for statistical assistance and Dr. Jeremy Farrell for macroinvertebrate trapping design and field work assistance. Additionally, we are very grateful for field work assistance provided by Brett D’Arco, Alex Pezzuoli, Shannon Collins, and Bethany Wickham.

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Correspondence to Bianca M. Pier.

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Pier, B.M., Dresser, B.R., Lee, J.J. et al. Ecological Analysis Before and After Planting in a Constructed Wetland in the Adirondacks. Wetlands 35, 611–624 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13157-015-0652-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13157-015-0652-4

Keywords

  • Treatment wetland
  • Macroinvertebrate community
  • Vegetation community
  • Catchment ponds
  • Wetland management