The role of ecosystem processes in restoring local and regional species diversity in Coastal Plain wetlands

EPA Grant Number: R825795
Title: The role of ecosystem processes in restoring local and regional species diversity in Coastal Plain wetlands
Investigators: Resetarits Jr., William J. , Fauth, John E.
Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign , College of Charleston
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: September 1, 1997 through August 31, 2000
Project Amount: $527,032
RFA: Ecosystem Restoration (1997) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Hazardous Waste/Remediation , Land and Waste Management , Ecosystems


The long-term goal of this project is to identify and test hydroperiod manipulations that bring the amphibian faunas of artificially created wetland ponds closer to those of their natural counterparts. Amphibians are sentinel species that are good indicators of ecosystem health, thus successful mitigation for frogs and salamanders should indicate restoration of ecosystem function affecting a broad range of organisms. In order to rigorously address the role of hydroperiod variation in the maintenance of species diversity, this project will utilize both comparative and experimental approaches.

The purpose of this project is to determine the impact of variation in hydroperiod on the success of wetlands restoration efforts. Pond drying is a form of disturbance that at intermediate levels should increase species diversity by preventing elimination of species through competition and by preventing colonization of wetlands by predatory fishes. It also prevents the accumulation of other predators such as larval insects with long larval stages. Thus, maintaining a mosaic of pond hydroperiods may be critical to maintaining regional (watershed level) species diversity.


The project will compare amphibian diversity in a series of man-made wetland ponds in the Francis Marion National Forest (SC) with an equal number of their natural counterparts to examine issues of local species diversity, and compare the collective diversity of the entire group of man -made ponds with the entire sample of natural ponds to examine issues of regional species diversity. The project will examine the success of the manufactured habitats in supporting amphibian diversity, and identify the factors responsible for differences between natural and man-made ponds. the two pond types. The success of our proposed restoration strategies will be rigorously evaluated with a large-scale experimental test in man-made ponds. Hydroperiod will be manipulated at several levels (very temporary through permanent) and the changes in amphibian species diversity will be monitored.

Expected Results:

On average, man-made ponds are expected to have lower species diversity than their natural counterparts (lower local diversity), and exhibit far less variation in species composition than among natural ponds, resulting in much lower cumulative species diversity (lower regional diversity). This is caused primarily by the lack of variation in hydroperiod within and among these manufactured ponds. Experimentally manipulating hydroperiod should restore the range of natural ecosystem function to the man-made ponds, thereby demonstrating a practical application of the intermediate disturbance hypothesis to aquatic habitats. This project will greatly increase our understanding of the ecological processes responsible for maintaining local and regional species diversity in natural aquatic systems, and identify the steps necessary to reestablish and maintain diversity in restored and man-made systems.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 44 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 17 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Southeast, ecology, South Carolina, community ecology, experiment, species interactions, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, Geographic Area, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Water & Watershed, Midwest, Restoration, State, Monitoring/Modeling, Environmental Monitoring, Biology, Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration, Watersheds, wetlands, Iowa, diversity, wildlife, regional species diversity, frogs, biodiversity, environmental assets, amphibians, coastal environments, salamanders, species interactions, ecological recovery, aquatic ecosystems, IA

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1998 Progress Report
  • 1999 Progress Report
  • Final Report