Wetlands in the central Platte River basin provide numerous ecosystem services but have been diminished and degraded by agricultural practices and development. Wetland restoration is increasingly common in this region, but the success of restorations is virtually unknown. We sampled macroinvertebrates during spring 2003 and 2004 in restored (5–16 y old) and natural slough wetlands to assess restoration success. Simple measures (e.g., total abundance, biomass, diversity) were all similar in restored and natural wetlands. Communities were similar in natural and restored wetlands, but we observed some taxonomic differences. For example, abundances of Helisoma and Pisidium and abundance and biomass of amphipods were higher in natural than in restored wetlands, and leeches were collected only in natural wetlands. These results suggest that dispersal ability is a biotic filter limiting recovery and that these noninsects are good candidates for assessing recovery. Functional structure on the basis of abundance was similar between natural and restored wetlands, but some differences in biomass-based estimates were evident. For example, relative biomass of collector-filterers was higher in natural than in restored wetlands in 2003. Multivariate analyses indicated that factors such as hydroperiod might be more important than restoration status in shaping wetland macroinvertebrate communities. Furthermore, drought conditions constrained our sampling efforts and influenced temporal patterns, thereby underscoring the need for multiyear studies, especially under extreme environmental conditions. Our results indicate that wetland macroinvertebrate communities in this region are resilient and recover rapidly after restoration, but that ongoing restoration and management efforts should focus on hydrology, which might limit recovery in restorations and is a critical factor shaping wetland macroinvertebrate communities.
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