A persistent question among ecologists and environmental managers is whether constructed wetlands are structurally or functionally equivalent to naturally occurring wetlands. We examined 19 variables collected from 10 constructed and nine natural emergent wetlands in Ohio, USA. Our primary objective was to identify candidate indicators of wetland class (natural or constructed), based on measurements of soil properties and an index of vegetation integrity, that can be used to track the progress of constructed wetlands toward a natural state. The method of nearest shrunken centroids was used to find a subset of variables that would serve as the best classifiers of wetland class, and error rate was calculated using a five-fold cross-validation procedure. The shrunken differences of percent total organic carbon (% TOC) and percent dry weight of the soil exhibited the greatest distances from the overall centroid. Classification based on these two variables yielded a misclassification rate of 11% based on cross-validation. Our results indicate that % TOC and percent dry weight can be used as candidate indicators of the status of emergent, constructed wetlands in Ohio and for assessing the performance of mitigation. The method of nearest shrunken centroids has excellent potential for further applications in ecology.
Additional publication details
Candidate soil indicators for monitoring the progress of constructed wetlands toward a natural state: a statistical approach