Numerous efforts have been made in West Virginia to construct and restore compensatory wetlands as mitigation for natural wetlands destroyed through highway development, timbering, mining, and other human activities. Because such little effort has been made to evaluate these wetlands, there is a need to evaluate the success of these systems. The objective of this study was to determine if mitigation wetlands in West Virginia were adequately supporting ecological communities relative to naturally occurring reference wetlands and to attribute specific characteristics in wetland habitat with trends in wildlife abundance across wetlands. Specifically, avian and anuran communities, as well as habitat quality for eight wetland-dependent wildlife species were evaluated. To supplement this evaluation, vegetation and invertebrate communities also were assessed. Wetland ranks were assigned based on several parameters including richness, abundance, diversity, density, and biomass, depending on which taxa was being analyzed. Mitigation wetlands consistently scored better ranks than reference wetlands across all communities analyzed. Canonical correspondence analysis revealed no correlations between environmental variables and community data. However, trends relating wetland habitat characteristics to community structure were observed. These data stress the need to maintain specific habitat characteristics in mitigated wetlands that are compatible with wildlife colonization and proliferation.
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