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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MANAGEMENT AND TREATMENT OF DRAINAGE WATERS FOR WATER QUALITY PROTECTION AND SUSTAINABILITY OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION IN THE MIDWEST U.S. Title: Differences in Aquatic Communities Between Wetlands Created by an Agricultural Water Recycling System

Authors
item Smiley, Peter
item Allred, Barry

Submitted to: Wetlands Ecology and Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 24, 2011
Publication Date: December 2, 2011
Repository URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/54457
Citation: Smiley, P.C., Allred, B.J. 2011. Differences in aquatic communities between wetlands created by an agricultural water recycling system. Wetlands Ecology and Management. 19:495-505.

Interpretive Summary: The design and management of agricultural wetlands focuses on optimizing the ability of created wetlands to reduce nutrient, pesticide, and sediment loadings within agricultural runoff. This focus on water quality results in the creation of wetlands that may not function effectively as habitats for aquatic vertebrates that are exhibiting worldwide population declines, such as fishes, amphibians, and reptiles. A novel agricultural water recycling system (i.e., WRSIS - wetland reservoir subirrigation system) has been implemented in agricultural landscapes in the midwestern United States, Canada, and China. WRSIS installation results in the creation of two types of agricultural wetlands (WRSIS wetlands and reservoirs). Yet the WRSIS design and management currently focus on water quality and/or subirrigation strategies for agricultural production. Additionally, previous WRSIS related research in the midwestern United States and Canada has focused on the WRSIS wetlands designed to process agricultural chemicals. The diversity and abundance of fishes, amphibians, and reptiles within WRSIS reservoirs and how it compares with WRSIS wetlands is unknown. We compared the diversity and abundance of fishes, amphibians, and reptiles between WRSIS wetlands and reservoirs in northwestern Ohio. Differences in amphibian abundance and species composition between WRSIS wetlands and reservoirs suggest the potential for WRSIS wetlands to provide habitat for different suite of aquatic vertebrates than the reservoirs. We used this information and developed design and management criteria for these small treatment wetlands. Our design and management criteria incorporate wetland size, hydrology, and upland habitat management strategies to enable WRSIS wetlands to function primarily as amphibian habitat and the reservoirs to function as fish habitat. These design and management criteria have the potential to increase the ecological benefits resulting from this agricultural water recycling system and will be useful for state, federal, and private agencies involved with creating agricultural wetlands to assist them meeting their conservation and restoration goals.

Technical Abstract: Establishment of an agricultural water recycling system known as the wetland reservoir subirrigation system (WRSIS) results in the creation of wetlands adjacent to agricultural fields. Each WRSIS consists of one wetland designed to process agricultural chemicals (WRSIS wetlands) and one wetland to store subirrigation water (WRSIS reservoirs). Previous WRSIS related research has focused on the filtration ability and development of aquatic plants within WRSIS wetlands. The fauna of the WRSIS reservoirs and how its aquatic community structure compares with WRSIS wetlands is unknown. We compared fish, amphibian, and reptile community structure between WRSIS wetlands and reservoirs in northwestern Ohio. Fishes, amphibians, and reptiles were sampled by seining, hoop netting, and gee minnow trapping in three WRSIS wetlands and three WRSIS reservoirs in June of 2006, 2007, and 2008. No difference in species richness, abundance, or percent reptiles occurred between wetland types. Percent amphibians were greater in WRSIS wetlands than reservoirs. Jaccard’s similarity index scores ranged from 0 to 0.5 and indicated species composition was different between wetland types. Our results assisted with the development of design and management criteria incorporating wetland size, hydrology, and upland habitat intended to enable the WRSIS wetlands to function primarily as amphibian habitat and the reservoirs to function as fish habitat.

Last Modified: 11/28/2014
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