Future Directions In Research

There have been many studies on created and natural wetlands. However, there are still many areas of wetland ecology that are unclear. Our understanding of these areas would greatly benefit restoration and creation of wetlands by improving our knowledge of the specific components involved in wetland function.

Big Island Marsh, Patricia Heithaus 2001

Microhabitat Studies

There are microhabitats within natural, created, and restored wetlands; however, we do not know what role these microhabitats have in driving wetland function and maintaining biological diversity. This information would be particularly useful when setting guidelines for replacement wetlands: replicating these microhabitats as best as possible could be included in the protocol for replacement wetlands, improving their quality.

Indicator Studies

While plants have been extensively used as an ecological indicator of wetland health, amphibians and macroinvertebrates have not been studied with the same intensity, yet these organisms have great potential as indicators. The specific wetland environments that amphibians and macroinvertebrates thrive in are not known. The changes in community structure of these organisms in response to degradation are also unclear. These are important issues to understand: they can be applied to wetland policy as a guideline for sensitive species.

Microbial Studies

It has been found that nutrients are not being recycled in restored and created wetlands (per.comm.Fennessy). One theory behind the broken cycle is that the bacterial content, or microbial communities, in the soil is lost in replacement wetlands. Until we understand why nutrients are not being cycled, replacement wetlands can not function correctly. The answer to this question will undoubtedly lead to a higher quality restored wetland.