Date of this Version
Ecological Indicators 34 (2013) 600–606; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2013.06.025
Large scale wetland restoration and reforestation efforts continue to expand throughout the Lower Mississippi Valley. Monitoring of restoration performance and the development of restoration trajectories pose challenges to resource managers and remain problematic due to (1) temporal patterns in forest succession, (2) budget constraints and short project monitoring timeframes, (3) disparity in the extent of pre-restoration hydrologic and landscape manipulations, and (4) lack of coherent restoration performance standards. The current work establishes a framework for identifying restoration trajectory metrics within project-relevant timescales. The study examined 17 variables commonly applied in rapid assessments. Four variables yielded positive restoration trajectories within a few years to 20 years. These include shrub-sapling density, ground vegetation cover, and development of organic and A soil horizons. Remaining variables including flood frequency and tree density provide limited useful information within critical early years following reforestation due to the time required for measurable changes to occur. As a result, assessment components are classified into three categories of rapid response, response, and stable variables. Restoring entities should maximize stable variables (e.g., afforestation species composition) during project implementation through site selection and planting techniques; while development of restoration milestones should focus on rapid response variables. Data collected at mature bottomland hardwood control sites displays the non-linearity of trajectory curves over decadal time scales.