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By Elizabeth Walsh, Spanish and Biological Sciences
Advisor: Danielle Winget
Award: Excellence in Research Communication
Presentation ID: 21
Abstract: Urban wetlands are on the frontier of city planning and wildlife conservation. Wetlands are not only important sources of biodiversity, but offer many ecological and cultural benefits as well. A recent project in Cincinnati, Ohio included a constructed wetland inside of a park, combining conservation with urban development. However, constructed wetland habitats are not guaranteed ecological success. To assess the progress of this project, this study will track changes associated with community succession over a three month interval. These changes include species richness and biodiversity, (measured using the Shannon-Wiener index) species' abundances, and changes in soil chemistry. Data will be collected from quadrants within two locations inside the park, one inside the wetland, and the other on a nearby lawn for comparison. Changes in soil chemistry will be measured simultaneously, and will include moisture, light, temperature and total nitrogen, potassium, phosphate and magnesium concentrations. As the community evolves, the study expects to measure substantial changes across all categories. A statistically significant increase in biodiversity will serve as evidence of early succession, and support that the wetland is a healthy habitat. Changes in species composition, especially the presence of wetland indicator species, will further validate this assessment. A lack of change could indicate that succession is stalled, and further human intervention may be necessary. In addition, the presence of volunteer species, particularly invasive species, could identify potential ecological threats. Overall, this study will provide insight into an understudied area- urban wetlands, and the important dynamics of early succession.