Wetland degradation is a serious environmental concern worldwide. In the United States, over half of the wetland ecosystems have degraded since 1780, which can have numerous, lasting consequences with negative outcomes on ecosystems and human society alike. Ecological restoration can regain both the lost wetland acreage and functions. Both global and national scale interests in ecological restoration have trickled down, which has kindled the local and regional natural resource managers and conservation authorities to invest in restoration. Consequently, large-scale wetland restoration projects are now underway in southeastern Massachusetts, which has coincided with a decline in commercial cranberry farming in the state. Despite such major investments in ecological restoration, little follow-up has been planned or implemented to assess the benefits and successes of restoration. Our study will assess how biological communities in restored cranberry bogs, which were originally functional wetlands, change with time and investigate how successful and effective restoration is at biodiversity conservation. High diversity in biological communities is essential for restoration success. The goal of our research was to gain a scientific understanding about how biological communities respond post restoration and to determine if the biological communities are changing over time after restoration. We specifically studied changes in community structure, species richness, and abundance of herpetofauna (amphibians and reptiles). The process of observing and recording this change involved the use of aquatic funnel traps in addition to surveys in select 10x10 m plots. The funnel traps were submerged in different habitats such as a pond or stream in addition to features like ditches and placed near certain environmental features such as rocks or logs. Data collected from trap surveys revealed that the average herpetofauna abundance of adults was greater at the site that is five years since restoration (5 YSR) compared to the one year since restoration (1 YSR) site. Data collected from plot surveys revealed that the average larval amphibian richness and abundance was greater at the 1 YSR site than at the 5 YSR site. Further analyses revealed multiple significant species-habitat associations. Comprehension of collected results provides insight on the effects of restoration and its success in promoting biodiversity conservation.
Dr. Thilina Surasinghe, Thesis Advisor
Dr. Haleh Khojasteh, Committee Member
Dr. Laura K. Gross, Committee Member
Keith, Kayla. (2023). Temporal changes in biological community structure in response to wetland restoration: A study based on amphibians and reptiles. In BSU Honors Program Theses and Projects. Item 618. Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/honors_proj/618
Copyright © 2023 Kayla Keith