Establishing a Flexible but Robust Framework to Assess Nutrient Removal in Diverse Wetland Restorations

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Conference Proceeding

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Globally, investments are made to protect, restore, construct, and manage wetland ecosystems to mitigate eutrophication. However, efforts to assess nutrient removal in restored wetlands are often limited and data remains inadequate. In Ohio, wetland restoration is being implemented statewide as part of the H2Ohio Initiative to improve water quality. The H2Ohio Wetland Projects are diverse and numerous, representing over 50 projects including reconnection of diked coastal wetlands as well as wetland restoration and construction on agricultural land and floodplains. The H2Ohio Wetland Monitoring Program (HWMP) includes a multi-disciplinary, coordinated team of researchers developing a long-term data collection framework to assess the nutrient removal effectiveness of wetland restoration throughout the state. We are developing a tiered approach to maximize use of limited resources by intensively investigating and modeling selected representative projects and developing synthetic analyses to infer biogeochemical process from low resolution indicators in less intensively monitored projects. Monitoring will take a mass balance nutrient budgeting approach aimed at quantifying major pools and fluxes of nitrogen and phosphorus to quantify load reduction in contrasting restoration approaches. Measurements will include hydrologic dynamics, groundwater exchange, vegetation dynamics, soil and surface nutrient status, surface water nutrient concentrations, and sediment-surface water nutrient exchange. Ultimately, the HWMP provides an unprecedented opportunity to compare diverse wetland restoration, construction, and management approaches in terms of direct assessments of nutrient cycling mechanisms. The HWMP will not only generate open data to inform wetland research and management, but will also enhance capacity through cultivating a network of researchers and practitioners.