Although wetland restoration has been a key part of U.S. environmental policy for 20 years (i.e., “no net loss”), there is little long-term data on restorations to guide planning and assessment. Understanding how restored wetland communities deviate from natural conditions, and how long those deviations persist, can provide important insights into the mechanisms of recovery and improve restoration practice. This study reports the results from a 19-year survey of 37 restored prairie pothole wetlands in northern Iowa, southern Minnesota, and southeastern South Dakota. Complete floristic surveys were performed for each of the wetlands in 1989, 1990, 1991, 2000, and 2007. The accumulation of wetland species across all sites was greatest during the first 12 years after reflooding (14.4 species/year), after which the rate declined to 1.6 species/year. Proximity to natural wetlands and a semi-permanent water regime favored species accumulations during the first 12 years, but changes since then are primarily linked to water regime. Semi-permanent wetlands have experienced fewer major gains and losses in species richness, whereas temporary and seasonal wetlands have been less stable. From 2000 to 2007, extinctions exceeded colonizations in all wetlands, resulting in a convergence of beta diversity. Although 77% of the species considered common to natural wetlands in the region established in these restorations, 70% of those considered infrequent have not. The likelihood that these restorations will eventually support many additional species appears low, given the presence of barriers to recovery, especially the dominance of invasive perennials (e.g., Phalaris arundinacea and Typha angustifolia/x glauca) on all sites and the low colonization efficiency of wet prairie, sedge meadow, and woody perennial species. Management, such as active revegetation of these low efficiency species guilds, particularly sedge meadow and wet prairie perennials, and invasive species control is needed to ensure that restored prairie wetlands support the region’s biodiversity. The important barriers to the recovery of prairie pothole restoration: isolation, infrequent flooding, and invasive species, are all factors that do not self-correct over time and need to be addressed during planning by establishing sound practices for initial implementation and long-term vegetation management.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Budelsky, R. A. and S. M. Galatowitsch. 2000. Effects of water regime and competition on the establishment of a native sedge in restored wetlands. Journal of Applied Ecology 37: 971–85.
Campbell, D. A., C. A. Cole, and R. P. Brooks. 2002. A comparison of created and natural wetlands in Pennsylvania, USA. Wetlands Ecology and Management 10: 41–49.
Chase, J. M. 2007. Drought mediates the importance of stochastic community assembly. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104: 17430–34.
Dahl, T. E. and C. E. Johnson. 1991. Wetland status and trends in the conterminous United States, mid 1970’s to mid 1980’s: first update of the national wetlands status report. US Fish and Wildlife Service Report. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, DC, USA.
Delphey, P. J. and J. J. Dinsmore. 1993. Breeding bird communities of recently restored and natural prairie potholes. Wetlands 13: 200–06.
Galatowitsch, S. M. 1993. Site selection, design criteria, and performance assessment for wetland restorations in the prairie pothole region. Ph.D. Dissertation, Iowa State University, Ames, USA.
Galatowitsch, S. M. 2006. Restoring prairie pothole wetlands: does the species pool concept offer decision-making guidance for re-vegetation. Applied Vegetation Science 9: 261–270.
Galatowitsch, S. M. and A. G. van der Valk. 1994. Restoring Prairie Wetlands: An Ecological Approach. Iowa State University Press, Ames, IA, USA.
Galatowitsch, S. M. and A. G. van der Valk. 1995. Natural revegetation during restoration of wetlands in the southern prairie pothole region of North America. p. 129–42. In B. D. Wheeler, S. C. Shaw, W. J. Fojt, and R. A. Robertson (eds.) Restoration of Temperate Wetlands. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY, USA.
Galatowitsch, S. M. and A. G. van der Valk. 1996a. The vegetation of restored and natural prairie wetlands. Ecological Applications 6: 102–12.
Galatowitsch, S. M. and A. G. van der Valk. 1996b. Characteristics of recently restored wetlands in the prairie pothole region. Wetlands 16: 75–83.
Galatowitsch, S. M. and A. G. van der Valk. 1996c. Vegetation and environmental conditions in recently restored wetlands in the prairie pothole regions of the USA. Vegetatio 126: 89–99.
Galatowitsch, S. M., D. C. Whited, R. Lehtinen, J. Husveth, and K. Schik. 2000. The vegetation of wet meadows in relation to their land use. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 60: 121–44.
Gibson, K. D., J. B. Zedler, and R. Langis. 1994. Limited response of cordgrass (Spartina foliosa) to soil amendments in a constructed marsh. Ecological Applications 4: 757–67.
Gleason, H. A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada, second edition. The New York Botanical Garden, New York, USA.
Godwin, H. 1923. Dispersal of pond floras. Journal of Ecology 11: 160–64.
Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. University of Kansas Press, Lawrence, KS, USA.
Green, E. K. and S. M. Galatowitsch. 2001. Differences in wetland plant community establishment with additions of nitrate-N and invasive species (Phalaris arundinacea and Typha × glauca). Canadian Journal of Botany 79: 170–78.
Green, E. K. and S. M. Galatowitsch. 2002. Effects of Phalaris arundinacea and nitrate-N addition on the establishment of wetland plant communities. Journal of Applied Ecology 39: 134–44.
Joosten, J. H. J. 1995. Time to regenerate: long-term perspectives of raised bog regeneration with special emphasis on palaeoecological studies. p. 380404. In B. D. Wheeler, S. C. Shaw, W. J. Fojt, and R. A. Robertson (eds.) Restoration of Temperate Wetlands. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY, USA.
Kettenring, K. M. 2006. Seed ecology of wetland Carex spp —implication for restoration. PhD Dissertation, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, St. Paul, MN, USA.
LaGrange, T. G. and J. J. Dinsmore. 1989. Plant and animal community responses to restored Iowa wetlands. Prairie Naturalist 21: 39–48.
Lindig-Cisneros, R. and J. B. Zedler. 2002. Phalaris arundinacea seedling establishment: effects of canopy complexity in fen, mesocosm, and restoration experiments. Canadian Journal of Botany 80: 617–24.
Maurer, D. A., R. Lindig-Cisneros, K. J. Werner, S. Kercher, R. Miller, and J. B. Zedler. 2003. The replacement of wetland vegetation by Reed Canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea). Ecological Restoration 21: 116–19.
McCune, B. and J. B. Grace. 2002. Analysis of Ecological Communities. MjM Software, Gleneden Beach, OR, USA.
McCune, B. and M. J. Mefford. 1999. PC-ORD. Multivariate Analysis of Ecological Data, Version 4.0. MjM Software Design, Gleneden Beach, OR, USA.
McKinney, M. L. and J. L. Lockwood. 2001. Biotic Homogenization: a sequential and selective process. p. 1–17. In J. L. Lockwood and M. L. McKinney (eds.) Biotic Homogenization. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York, NY, USA.
Mitsch, W. J. and R. F. Wilson. 1996. Improving the success of wetland creation and restoration with know-how, time, and self-design. Ecological applications 6: 77–83.
Moore, H. H., W. A. Niering, L. J. Marsicano, and M. Dowdell. 1999. Vegetation change in created emergent wetlands (1988–1996) in Connecticut (USA). Wetlands Ecology and Management 7: 177–91.
Mueller, M. H. and A. G. van der Valk. 2002. The potential of ducks in wetland seed dispersal. Wetlands 22: 170–78.
Mueller-Dumbois, D. and H. Ellenberg. 1974. Aims and Methods of Vegetation Ecology. Wiley, New York, NY, USA.
Mulhouse, J. M. and S. M. Galatowitsch. 2003. Revegetation of prairie pothole wetlands in the mid-continental US: twelve years post-flooding. Plant Ecology 169: 143–59.
National Agricultural Imagery Program (NAIP). Data repository for Farm Service Agency agriculture compliance photography. URL: http://18.104.22.168/NAIP.html (Accessed February, 2008)
Perry, L. G., S. M. Galatowitsch, and C. J. Rosen. 2004. Competitive control of invasive vegetation: a native sedge suppresses Phalaris arundinacea in carbon-enriched soil. Journal of Applied Ecology 41: 151–62.
Reinhardt Adams, C. and S. M. Galatowitsch. 2005. Phalaris arundinacea (reed canary grass): rapid growth and growth pattern in conditions approximating newly restored wetlands. Ecoscience 12: 569–73.
Reinhardt Adams, C. and S. M. Galatowitsch. 2006. Increasing the effectiveness of reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea L.) control in wet meadow restorations. Restoration Ecology 14: 441–51.
Saunders, D. A., R. J. Hobbs, and C. R. Margules. 1991. Biological consequences of ecosystem fragmentation: a review. Conservation Biology 5: 18–32.
Seabloom, E. W. and A. G. van der Valk. 2003. Plant diversity, composition, and invasion of restored and natural prairie pothole wetlands: implications for restoration. Wetlands 23: 1–12.
Shaffer, M. L. 1981. Minimum population sizes for species conservation. BioScience 31: 131–134.
Soulé, M. E. 1986. Conservation Biology: The Science of Scarcity and Diversity. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA, USA.
Stewart, R. E. and H. A. Kantrud. 1971. Classification of natural ponds and lakes in the glaciated prairie region. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Resource Publication 92.
USDA, NRCS. 2007. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 29 November 2007). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA, USA.
Werner, K. J. and J. B. Zedler. 2002. How sedge meadow soils, microtopography, and vegetation respond to sedimentation. Wetlands 22: 451–66.
Wetzel, P. R. and A. G. van der Valk. 1998. Effects of nutrient and soil moisture on competition between Carex stricta, Phalaris arundinacea, and Typha latifolia. Plant Ecology 1: 116–19.
Whigham, D. 1999. Ecological issues related to wetland preservation, restoration, creation and assessment. The Science of the Total Environment 240: 31–40.
Wienhold, C. E. and A. G. van der Valk. 1989. Impact of duration of drainage on the seed banks of northern prairie wetlands. Canadian Journal of Botany 67: 1878–84.
Winter, T. C. 2000. The vulnerability of wetlands to climate change: a hydrologic landscape perspective. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 36: 305–11.
Young, T. P., D. A. Petersen, and J. J. Clary. 2005. The ecology of restoration: historical links, emerging issues and unexplored realms. Ecology Letters 8: 662–73.
Zar, J. H. 1999. Biostatistical Analysis, fourth edition. Prentice-Hall, Inc, Upper Saddle River, NJ, USA.
Zedler, J. B. 1996. Ecological issues in wetland mitigation: An introduction to the forum. Ecological Applications 6: 33–37.
Zedler, J. B. 2000. Progress in wetland restoration ecology. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 15: 402–07.
Rights and permissions
About this article
Cite this article
Aronson, M.F.J., Galatowitsch, S. Long-term vegetation development of restored prairie pothole wetlands. Wetlands 28, 883–895 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1672/08-142.1
- beta diversity
- dispersal limitation
- invasive species
- priority effects
- South Dakota
- species richness
- wetland restoration