Structural and functional loss in restored wetland ecosystems

Moreno-Mateos D, Power ME, Comin FA, and Yockteng R. 2012. Structural and functional loss in restored wetland ecosystems. PLOS Biology. (10)1:e1001247 (27) Featured in Nature 481(7383):8 and PLOS Biology 10(1):e1001248. Also, featured in hundreds newspapers and news websites from over 10 countries. Selected examples are: The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, Science Daily, and MongaBay.

Author's Notes

This has been the most impactful and cited paper I have published so far. It was the first global evaluation of the performance of restoration through time. I found that restored wetlands did not match reference undisturbed wetlands for up to 100 years in terms of the abundance and diversity of plant and animal communities and of the cycling of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus. In particular, I found that animal abundance and diversity could recover within the first decade, while plant abundance and diversity did not fully recover after 100 years. This study did not look into species composition, we are doing that in our current studies. It also found that tropical wetlands and large wetlands (>100 ha) recovered faster than temperate and small wetlands, respectively. This paper has had major discussion in the press and has affected how wetland restoration is planned in terms of temporal and spatial scales. This was my first meta-analysis in a list that is still growing and helped me frame my entire empirical research. Thanks to the patterns found here I could infer what I should look into to understand the mechanisms of recovery. In particular, it helped me realize than looking at diversity or nitrogen cycling would help little to understand ecosystem change, and that we need to focus on more complex ecosystem attributes. It also helped me to understand that the timescale used in these meta-analysis was the right one, and even longer, to understand ecosystem recovery.