Wetland Restoration Research

Wetland Restoration

Restoration of wetland and riparian ecosystems within wetland landscapes requires new or improved technologies, reference system models, and reliable indicators of restoration success and ecosystem health.

This work is focused on developing sound methods and reliable measures of wetland structure and function that can be used to plan restorations and to assess whether a restored wetland will achieve the desired objectives.

Coastal Plain wetland types differ in their hydrologic and ecological properties, therefore system-specific approaches are required.

It is also important to identify reference wetland systems and understand their structure and dynamics, as a basis for evaluating the performance of restored wetlands.

Bottomland Hardwood

Bottomland Hardwoods

The Center has led collaborative research to develop restoration and assessment techniques for bottomland hardwood wetlands.

A restoration project was implemented in Pen Branch Creek, a 3 rd order stream impacted by thermal cooling water discharges on the Savannah River Site, South Carolina.

Through experiments and use of successional chronosequences, the research takes a holistic ecosystem approach to determine the biotic and abiotic factors that can influence restoration progress and provide assessment criteria.

In cooperative studies with various partners, researchers have examined ecosystem components ranging from soil carbon and nutrients to vegetation, stream communities, and wildlife. The findings will enable future restoration efforts to be more effectively performed and evaluated.

Selected Publications

Carolina Bays

Carolina Bay

Carolina bays and similar depressions are characteristic wetlands of the Coastal Plain, with diverse hydrologies, soils, and vegetation.

They provide essential habitat for semi-aquatic fauna, but many have been destroyed or severely altered by ditching, draining, and conversion to agriculture.

As "isolated" wetlands, they have limited regulatory protections and are further threatened. Thus there is critical need for information to assist their conservation and restoration.

The Center is conducting and collaborating in experimental research to test approaches for restoring small Carolina bay wetlands on the Savannah River Site, South Carolina.

Altered depressions have been hydrologically restored by plugging drainage ditches, and alternative methods for vegetation establishment and site management are being tested.

Selected Publications