Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Katie Hossler (Advisor), Yvonne Vadeboncoeur (Committee Member), Volker Bahn (Committee Member), John Stireman (Other)

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Macroinvertebrates are important contributors to wetland ecosystems due to their role in decomposition, nutrient cycling, and as a food resource for other organisms. Several studies have analyzed the macroinvertebrate communities in created wetlands, but few have evaluated them in the context of trophic structure in both created and natural wetlands. The objective of this study is to better understand benthic macroinvertebrate community composition and trophic structure in created and natural wetlands. My central hypotheses were that macroinvertebrate communities in created wetlands would have (1) differing composition and (2) less complex trophic structure with shorter food-chain length compared to natural wetlands. Macroinvertebrates and soil cores were collected from five created and two natural depressional marshes. I assessed macroinvertebrate community characteristics such as diversity and composition, and functional feeding group composition. I used stable isotope analysis to determine food-chain length and other trophic metrics. Soil cores were used to determine bulk density, texture, and the C:N profile of the soil in the wetlands. Through a combination of univariate (e.g. ANOVA) and multivariate analyses (e.g. NMDS, PERMANOVA) these conclusions were met: (1) Macroinvertebrate taxa composition differed statistically between wetland types (p= 0.05); (2) FCL did not differ significantly between wetland types. In addition, functional feeding group composition was trending toward significance (p = 0.095), and soils were found to be distinct between wetland types (p= 0.043), with bulk density being a strong driver of that relationship (p= 0.012). These results show that in these wetlands, macroinvertebrate species present are different, however the overall function they provide are very similar between wetland types. The habitat characteristics in created wetlands that are known to quickly develop (e.g. plant community composition) were similar to the natural wetlands, but characteristics that take longer (e.g. soil bulk density) were still distinct between types.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Biological Sciences

Year Degree Awarded




Included in

Biology Commons