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Department of Biological Sciences


Advancing ecological restoration assessments requires a more detailed consideration of species interactions and ecosystem processes. Most restoration projects rely on a few metrics not always directly linked with ecological theory. Here, we used Odum's theory of ecosystem development to assess and compare the ecosystem structure and services of created marshes (4–6 years old) with preexisting, reference marshes in a brackish water region of the Mississippi River Delta. We built ecosystem models for created and reference marshes that integrated large datasets of stomach contents, stable isotopes, and taxa abundances. Despite strong resemblance in community structure, created marshes were at an earlier succession stage compared to the reference marshes, having lower biomass (including exploited species), higher biomass turnover and production, less dependence on detritus, lower material cycling, and less energy flowing through specialist pathways. Although preserving preexisting marshes should be a priority, created marshes may still be an important tool for the restoration of coastal areas and their ecosystem services. In addition, our results show that comparisons of species biodiversity alone may fail to capture essential differences in ecosystem processes between habitats, which reinforces the importance of ecosystem modeling approaches to assess restoration projects.

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© 2023 The Authors. Restoration Ecology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Society for Ecological Restoration. Publisher’s version of record:

Publication Title

Restoration Ecology

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License


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