Wetland restoration initiatives have been an important component of efforts to safeguard and recover lost and degraded ecosystem services since the mid-1900s. However, recent studies have shown that, on average, restored wetlands have reduced biological structure and biogeochemical functioning compared to natural reference wetlands. Traditional restoration methods often aim to restore the physical and hydrological features of wetland sites with little regard for the biological features, such as community structure and species interactions, that may be important drivers of ecosystem functioning. Therefore, in my research, I am evaluating whether actively restoring community structure with functionally important species (the European green crab, the purple marsh crab, fiddler crabs, and marsh vegetation) will enhance the restoration of structure and function in New England tidal wetlands.
Wetlands are a critically important ecosystem type throughout the world, providing services and benefits that other ecosystems do not. Having an understanding of the best practices for restoring these and other degraded environments is essential to maintaining the health and functioning of natural systems on which humans depend.