Wetlands function as buffers between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, filtering pollutants generated by human activity. Constructed wetlands were developed to mimic the physical and biological filtering functions of natural systems for the treatment of human and animal waste under controlled conditions. Previous studies on the effect of constructed wetlands on native invertebrate populations have concentrated almost exclusively on mosquitoes. Here, we present the first study investigating the relationship between vegetation cover and aeration regime, and the diversity and abundance of nematodes and springtails (Collembola) in a constructed wetland designed to treat dairy farm wastewater in northwestern Vermont. We investigated four treatment cells differing in aeration regime and vegetation cover, but equally overlaid by a layer of compost to provide insulation. Analysis showed that nematodes were most abundant in the nonplanted and nonaerated cells, and that bacterivorous nematodes dominated the community in all cells. Springtails were found to be most numerous in the planted and nonaerated cells. We hypothesize that the vegetation provided differing environmental niches that supported a more diverse system of bacteria and fungi, as well as offering protection from predators and inclement weather. Nematodes were likely imported with the original compost material, while springtails migrated into the cells either via air, water, or direct locomotion.
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Vol. 43 • No. 2