Many parts of the world suffer from degraded water quality, including 44% of U.S. streams according to a recent study by the USEPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), 2009). One tool available for improving water quality is the restoration of stream and wetland ecosystems because they provide a range of important services such as improving water quality by transforming and removing excess nutrient pollution, improving aquatic life habitat, protecting infrastructure, and enhancing site aesthetics and recreation. And yet, the field of restoration ecology is still a relatively young discipline and there is a lot to be learned about how to best restore ecosystems and the value of restoration.
In this special issue on stream and wetland restoration, the authors examine the natural and social context of stream and/or wetland restoration in both tropical and temperate ecosystems (to see descriptions of the type of articles see submission guidelines). First, This issue has several examples of the type of research and monitoring of ecosystems post-restoration that is necessary to improve our ability to design effective restored ecosystems. Scientific study and monitoring of restoration outcomes is critical for advancing our understanding of how to restore functioning ecosystems. Lindig-Cisneros explores how different management regimes, including traditional plant harvests, cattle grazing, and fire, influence plant species diversity and wetland ecosystem service provisioning from wetlands in Mexico. Margriter and Bruland explain the history, importance, and status of Hawaiian wetlands and their current research approaches for prioritizing wetland conservation and restoration. Morse explores the ecology of a large-scale wetland mitigation site in the coastal plain of North Carolina including how the restoration of wetland hydrology affected the greenhouse gas emissions from the restored wetland. Sutton-Grier offers advice for those considering doing research in restored wetlands based on her experiences doing research in an urban restored wetland in North Carolina.
Additionally, restoration takes place within a social context and thus restoration objectives need to include socio-economic considerations and a range of benefits, beyond just water quality, that can potentially be achieved through restoration. Stack recommends a comprehensive approach to meeting the Clean Water Act goals that considers a range of approaches to reduce water quality degradation. Martinez describes her experience as a student conducting informal interviews of urban stream restoration design aesthetics in Baltimore, MD.
We hope you enjoy the diversity of topics and research findings as well as all the beautiful photos and graphics in this issue. We especially encourage you to take advantage of the benefits of the online format of this magazine to leave comments on articles where you have further questions or additional insights to share.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), 2009. National Water Quality Inventory: Report to Congress, 2004 Reporting Cycle. USEPA, Office of Water, Washington, DC, p. 43.
Issue cover photo, above, © Brendan DeTemple.