Aquatic macroinvertebrate community responses to wetland mitigation in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

Freshwater Biology
By: , and 



1. Wetlands are critical components of freshwater biodiversity and provide ecosystem services, but human activities have resulted in large-scale loss of these habitats across the globe. To offset this loss, mitigation wetlands are frequently constructed, but their ability to replicate the functions of natural wetlands remains uncertain. Further, monitoring of mitigation wetlands is limited and often focused exclusively on vegetation and physical characteristics.

2. Wetland fauna are assumed to be present if suitable habitat restoration is achieved, but this assumption is rarely tested. We used the macroinvertebrate community as a proxy for wetland function to compare created mitigation wetlands, natural wetlands impacted but not destroyed by road construction activity, and unimpacted reference wetlands along a highway corridor in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Unlike most other studies of invertebrate communities in created wetlands which have occurred in warm climates, our study area has a cold temperate climate with short growing seasons.

3. We estimated macroinvertebrate taxonomic richness and used linear models to test for effects of wetland design features (wetland age, isolation, depth, vegetation, size, and pH) on invertebrate richness. We also used non-metric multidimensional scaling to examine differences in community composition among wetland types and used indicator species analysis to determine which taxa were causing observed differences.

4. Taxonomic richness of macroinvertebrates was lower in created wetlands than impacted or reference wetlands, whereas richness was similar in impacted and reference wetlands. Wetland age was positively correlated with taxonomic richness. The amount of aquatic vegetation in wetlands had the greatest influence on taxonomic richness, so that recently created wetlands with little vegetation had the simplest invertebrate communities. Community composition of invertebrates in created wetlands also differed from community composition in reference and impacted wetlands. Most notably, created wetlands lacked some passive dispersers that were common in other wetland types, although we found no relationship between taxonomic richness and wetland isolation.

5. Overall, constructed wetlands had diminished and altered macroinvertebrate communities relative to reference and impacted wetlands, suggesting that longer times may be required for wetland mitigation projects in cold temperate climates to attain full functionality.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Aquatic macroinvertebrate community responses to wetland mitigation in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Series title Freshwater Biology
DOI 10.1111/fwb.13276
Volume 64
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center, Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
Description 12 p.
First page 942
Last page 953
Country United States
State Wyoming
Other Geospatial Togwotee Pass
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details