EKU Faculty and Staff Scholarship


Physical wetland characteristics influence amphibian communitycomposition differently in constructed wetlands and natural wetlands


Biological Sciences

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2016


Wetlands provide critical habitat for a diverse group of organisms and provide important ecosystemservices. Despite this, most natural wetlands have been lost to anthropogenic activities, and as a result,wetland construction is common mitigation practice. Therefore, examination of constructed wetlandviability in replacing the function of lost wetlands is vital. Our primary objectives were to compareamphibian communities of shallow and deep constructed wetlands to natural wetlands and to identifywhich wetland characteristics affect species composition. All wetlands were hydrologically isolated andfishless; natural wetlands had an ephemeral hydrology, and constructed wetland hydrology varied fromephemeral to permanent. Overall, constructed wetlands did not sufficiently replicate natural wetlandswith respect to the amphibian community. However, two of our constructed wetlands had a dryingperiod and exhibited communities more similar to natural wetlands. Hydroperiod and canopy closurewere indicators of amphibian community composition. Many species observed in natural wetlands wererare in shallow constructed and absent in deep constructed wetlands. Additionally, dominant predatorspecies (primarily Lithobates catesbeianus, Lithobates clamitans, and Notophthalmus viridescens) associatedwith permanent water were more abundant in constructed wetlands. Water depth, pH, and emergentvegetation were lower in natural wetlands. These data influenced land managers to revise constructionmethods and to renovate deep constructed wetlands by creating gradual slopes, decreasing maximumdepth to 20 cm or less, maintaining canopy cover, and decreasing soil compaction to attempt replicationof natural wetland hydrology.

Journal Title

Ecological Engineering