Insect Communities in Restored and Reference Tidal Salt Marshes

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Recovery of species richness, species composition, and biogeochemistry in restored wetlands often fails to reach levels of reference wetlands. While the effects of restoration on plant and non-insect macroinvertebrate communities are relatively well-studied, much less is known about the impacts of wetland restoration on insect communities. The aim of this research was to determine if observed differences in biological structure between one reference and two restored J. roemerianus-dominated marshes extends to insect communities within these ecosystems. Sampling methods included pan trapping, line transect netting, floral observations, floral clippings, and light trapping. All insect taxa and functional groups were identified monthly from April – October 2021 and analyzed for taxa richness, abundance, and H′ diversity. Floral density and herbivory scars on Juncus shoots were also measured during flowering and peak growing season, respectively. Results indicate that reference marshes supported a more diverse insect community than restored marshes, although insect abundance and taxa richness were similar among sites. Additionally, temporal patterns in the relative abundances of insect taxa and functional feeding groups differed among marshes, and likely reflected differences in habitat surroundings among sites. By researching structural differences in insect communities between reference and restored marshes, we can further understand the community composition of an understudied group of organisms, potentially improve restoration strategies, and support the health of both wetlands and the insects that inhabit them.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Restoration, Wetland ecology