Evaluating the Floral and Avian Communities of an Ohio Wetland at The Wilds: 7 Years After Restoration


  • Riley Jones Department of Restoration Ecology, The Wilds; Department of Biology, Denison University
  • Rebecca Swab Mad Scientist Associates LLC
  • Stephen Spear Department of Wildlife Ecology, The Wilds




Wetland restoration, invasive species, restoration evaluation, wetlands, wildlife


Wetland restorations have become an important tool in ecosystem management and have contributed to stabilizing hydrology and nutrient cycles, increasing native plant cover, and improving water quality. Long-term monitoring is essential for evaluating the success of a wetland restoration. However, wetland restorations are often monitored for short time periods compared to the timescale on which some abiotic factors change. Vegetative and avian assessments were conducted for a partially restored wetland on a reclaimed mine site, located at The Wilds® in Cumberland, Ohio. These assessments were performed from June through August 2018, 7 years after the initial restoration, using the unrestored portion as a comparison to evaluate restoration effectiveness. The restored wetland is characterized by open water with emergent vegetation, whereas the unrestored portion is largely a dense cattail (Typhus spp.) stand with low levels of standing water. The vegetative surveys used the Ohio EPA's Vegetation Index of Biotic Integrity for Emergent Vegetation (VIBI-E) and the bird surveys used a modified point count method. VIBI-E data are available for the study wetland from 1 year before restoration until summer 2018, while the avian study represents the first bird point count survey in the 2 wetland categories. The year 7 VIBI-E score of the restored section was the highest it has been since the restoration occurred and indicated "good" quality based on Ohio EPA scoring. The year 7 VIBI-E of the unrestored section has not changed since monitoring started and indicated "restorable" quality. The bird surveys showed higher richness associated with the restored wetland areas. These results demonstrate both the ecological value of wetland restoration and the ability for wetland restoration to maintain the ecological benefits over several years.