JCSET | Watershed Studies Institute Research Symposium

Title

Wildlife communities respond differently to hydrologic restoration of wetlands in agricultural landscapes

Presenter Information

Kinga HillFollow

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Faculty/Staff

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Michael Flinn; Howard Whiteman

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

Title: Wildlife communities respond differently to hydrologic restoration of wetlands in agricultural landscapes

Keywords: wetland, restoration, hydrology, community, wildlife, management

Wetlands provide important ecosystem services including wildlife habitat, nutrient and sediment retention, flood protection, and recreation. In western Kentucky, the Mississippi Alluvial Valley historically supported expansive bottomland hardwood forested wetlands but since settlement 80% of these wetlands have been converted to cropland. Wetland restoration, led by hydrologic restoration, has become one strategy to rehabilitate degraded wetlands, but we have limited knowledge about which hydrologic characteristics influence wildlife communities. The objective of our study was to examine the association between hydrologic characteristics of restored wetlands and multiple wildlife communities. We selected thirteen riparian wetlands in western Kentucky, USA that spanned a gradient of disturbance: drained, restored, and reference. From 2018 to 2020, we collected data on fish, bird, plant, invertebrate, amphibian, zooplankton, butterfly/dragonfly, and turtle communities and continuously measured water level using water level loggers. We found that hydrologic extremes like deep and long periods of flooding influenced the wetland wildlife community, but taxa varied in their response direction. Aquatic communities like fish, invertebrates, and zooplankton were especially responsive to hydrology. Additionally, certain taxa within wildlife communities in wetlands interact inversely, such that obtaining high diversity and abundance of all communities is not achievable in a single wetland but could be achievable on a landscape scale. With an increased understanding of hydrologic drivers of diversity, managers can tailor objectives of restoration with realistic goals.

Spring Scholars Week 2021 Event

Watershed Studies Institute Symposium

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Wildlife communities respond differently to hydrologic restoration of wetlands in agricultural landscapes

Title: Wildlife communities respond differently to hydrologic restoration of wetlands in agricultural landscapes

Keywords: wetland, restoration, hydrology, community, wildlife, management

Wetlands provide important ecosystem services including wildlife habitat, nutrient and sediment retention, flood protection, and recreation. In western Kentucky, the Mississippi Alluvial Valley historically supported expansive bottomland hardwood forested wetlands but since settlement 80% of these wetlands have been converted to cropland. Wetland restoration, led by hydrologic restoration, has become one strategy to rehabilitate degraded wetlands, but we have limited knowledge about which hydrologic characteristics influence wildlife communities. The objective of our study was to examine the association between hydrologic characteristics of restored wetlands and multiple wildlife communities. We selected thirteen riparian wetlands in western Kentucky, USA that spanned a gradient of disturbance: drained, restored, and reference. From 2018 to 2020, we collected data on fish, bird, plant, invertebrate, amphibian, zooplankton, butterfly/dragonfly, and turtle communities and continuously measured water level using water level loggers. We found that hydrologic extremes like deep and long periods of flooding influenced the wetland wildlife community, but taxa varied in their response direction. Aquatic communities like fish, invertebrates, and zooplankton were especially responsive to hydrology. Additionally, certain taxa within wildlife communities in wetlands interact inversely, such that obtaining high diversity and abundance of all communities is not achievable in a single wetland but could be achievable on a landscape scale. With an increased understanding of hydrologic drivers of diversity, managers can tailor objectives of restoration with realistic goals.