The Importance of Plant Community Structure on Form and Function of Created Wetland Systems

by Richard A. Orson,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: North American Water and Environment Congress & Destructive Water


If we consider that the creation and the restoration of a wetland system begins with the design of the hydrology, then establishing the form and function of a wetland begins with the design of the plant community structure. Planting plans are often based on a limited set of criteria such as the tolerance of a species to withstand flooding and/or the availability of a species on the commercial market. Although these criteria are important, the design of a wetland system is much more complex and one which requires a knowledge of plant ecology. It is, after all, the plant community which will determine the ecological value of the habitat, the extent to which the system will act as a filter for the environment and the type of substrate which will develop within the system. Thus, being able to show the success of plant survival in a created wetland through the monitoring phase does not ensure that the system has adequately compensated for lost wetland value or function. However, by incorporating the structure of the plant community into wetland design, we can begin to create wetland systems which serve an intended function as well as replace some of the ecological value lost during development.

Subject Headings: Wetlands (fresh water) | Ecosystems | Ecological restoration | Historic preservation | Business management | Filters | Hydrology | Vegetation

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