The vegetation of restored and natural prairie wetlands

  • Published source details Galatowitsch S.M. & van der Valk A.G. (1996) The vegetation of restored and natural prairie wetlands. Ecological Applications, 6, 102-112.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Raise water level to restore/create freshwater marshes from other land uses

Action Link
Marsh and Swamp Conservation
  1. Raise water level to restore/create freshwater marshes from other land uses

    A replicated, paired, site comparison study in 1991 of 20 prairie potholes in Iowa, USA (Galatowitsch & van der Valk 1996b) found that restored potholes (rewetted and planted with cover crops) contained a distinct plant community to natural wetlands after three years, with fewer plant species. The plant community composition differed more between restored and natural wetlands (12–44% similarity) than it did amongst restored or natural wetlands (31–63% similarity). The study reported lower richness in restored than natural wetlands of plant species overall, floating, shallow emergent, wet prairie and sedge meadow species, but higher richness of submerged species (data reported in 4b). The study also reported data on the cover of common individual plant species (see original paper). Methods: In April–October 1991, plant species and cover were recorded in 10 pairs of similarly sized pothole marshes (twenty 1-m2 quadrats/pothole). In each pair, one marsh had been restored three years previously (by blocking/breaking drainage structures to raise the water level and, in some sites, planting cover crops; note that the study evaluates the combined effect of these interventions in some potholes). Restored potholes had previously been drained and farmed for ≥25 years. The other marshes were natural (never drained or farmed, but surrounded by farmland). This study used a subset of the restored potholes from (4) and exactly the same potholes as (8). Some of the potholes were also studied in (12).

    (Summarised by: Nigel Taylor)

Output references
What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 21

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape ProgrammeRed List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Mauritian Wildlife Supporting Conservation Leaders
Sustainability Dashboard National Biodiversity Network Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Bat Conservation InternationalPeople trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust