Considerable work has been conducted on the benthic communities of inland aquatic systems, but there remains a paucity of effort on freshwater tidal wetlands. This study characterized the benthic macroinvertebrate communities of recently reconstructed urban freshwater tidal wetlands along the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C. The focus of the study was on the two main areas of Kingman Marsh, which were reconstructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2000 using Anacostia dredge material. Populations from this 'new' marsh were compared to those of similarly reconstructed Kenilworth Marsh (1993) just one half mile upstream, the relic reference Dueling Creek Marsh in the upper Anacostia estuary and the outside reference Patuxent freshwater tidal marsh in an adjacent watershed. Benthic macro invertebrate organisms were collected using selected techniques for evaluation including the Ekman bottom grab sampler, sediment corer, D-net and Hester-Dendy sampler. Samples were collected at least seasonally from tidal channels, tidal mudflats, three vegetation/sediment zones (low, middle and high marsh), and pools over a 3-year period (late 2001-2004). The macroinvertebrate communities present at the marsh sites proved to be good indicators of disturbance and stress (Kingman Marsh), pollution, urban vs. rural location (Kenilworth and Patuxent), and similarities between reconstructed and remnant wetlands (Kenilworth and Dueling Creek). Macroinvertebrate density was significantly greater at Kingman Marsh than Kenilworth Marsh due to more numerous chironomids and oligochaetes. This may reflect an increase in unvegetated sediments at Kingman (even at elevations above natural mudflat) due to grazing pressure from over-abundant resident Canada geese. Unvegetated sediments yielded greater macroinvertebrate abundance but lower richness than vegetated marsh sites. Data collected from this study provides information on the extent that benthic macroinvertebrate communities can serve as indicators of the relative success of freshwater tidal marsh reconstruction.
Additional publication details
Final report (2002-2004): Benthic macroinvertebrate communities of reconstructed freshwater tidal wetlands in the Anacostia River, Washington, D.C