Plankton respiration and biomass as functional indicators of recovery in restored prairie wetlands

Paul M. Mayer, Robert O. Megard, Susan M. Galatowitsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Reliable ecological indicators of wetland integrity are necessary for assessing recovery of restored wetlands; yet, little consensus currently exists on which indicators are most appropriate. We employed indicators derived from simple, standard measures of ecosystem function selected on the basis of ecological succession theory developed by [Science 164 (1969) 262; Bioscience 35 (1985) 419], which suggests that respiration:biomass ratios should increase in disturbed systems due to the diversion of energy from growth to maintenance. This hypothesis holds potential for the development of a simple ecological indicator and therefore was tested among prairie wetlands restored after drainage disturbance. No difference was observed in respiration:biomass ratios in restored wetlands and reference wetlands designated as controls. Plankton respiration or biomass may be poor indicators of disturbance because plankton responds quickly to re-establishment of a wetland hydrology regime and/or because different plankton species may have redundant function. We suggest employing more revealing assessment techniques that employ simultaneous examination of ecosystem structure and function to better characterize subtle or lingering effects of wetland disturbance after restoration. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-253
Number of pages9
JournalEcological Indicators
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2004


  • BOD
  • Biomass
  • Community respiration
  • Ecological indicator
  • Recovery
  • Restored wetland

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