NRES Departmental Seminar by Dr. Chris Craft, Duey-Murphy Professor of Rural Land Policy in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, Bloomington
Title: Restoring Freshwater Wetlands in Agricultural Landscapes: Lessons from the Corn Belt
Restoring wetlands in agricultural landscapes increasingly is used to reestablish key ecosystem services in these ecologically impoverished environments yet little is known about their ability to deliver these services relative to natural systems. We compared ecosystem services describing water purification (denitrification, phosphorus sorption, N and P accumulation in soil), carbon sequestration and plant biodiversity in 4-10 year-old depressional wetlands and riparian buffers restored using monies from the USDA Wetlands Reserve and Conservation Reserve programs with natural mature wetlands and riparian areas in the Corn Belt region of Indiana and Ohio. We also measured greenhouse gas (CO2, CH4, N2O) emissions from restored and natural wetlands to characterize their (potential) contribution to global warming.
Restored wetlands and riparian buffers varied in their delivery of services. Restored riparian buffers provided high levels of denitrification that were comparable to natural riparian areas. Restored wetlands also denitrified N but at levels much lower than natural wetlands in the region. Riparian buffers also sequestered more C and accumulated more N and P in soil than wetlands.
Plant biodiversity (alpha and beta richness, floristic quality assessment index) was comparable between restored and natural wetlands. However, restored wetlands contained more opportunistic and mesic species whereas natural wetlands had more sensitive and hydrophytic species. Emissions of CO2, CH4 and N2O did not differ between restored and natural wetlands. Overall, emissions were low compared to published studies of other wetlands.
We conclude that wetland and riparian restoration reintroduces ecosystem services on the landscape but that some services are optimized at the expense of others. Successful reestablishment of ecosystem services in agricultural landscape will depend on the goal(s) of the restoration such as maximizing connectivity to enhance water purification, or managing disturbance (e.g. prescribed fire) to enhance biodiversity.
Speaker's website: http://www.indiana.edu/~spea/faculty/craft-christoperb.shtml
Dr. Craft is hosted by Dr. Angela Kent. If you wish to meet with the speaker, please contact Angela at firstname.lastname@example.org.