Restoration or creation of wetlands is used to counteract wetland loss in the United States. However, projects often fail to meet functional equivalence with natural wetlands, and the shortcomings increase with time since construction. Many restoration projects are located in suburban or urban areas and are highly influenced by human impacts. Lack of understanding of how human communities influence restoration outcomes, in ways both positive and negative, hinders the ability of restoration managers to produce favorable long-term outcomes. This thesis investigates relationships among ecological metrics of success and the biotic, abiotic and social context for 38 created and restored wetlands in New York State. Measures of ecological function include invasive species and hydrological regimes, among others, and socio-ecological factors include public access, proximity to residential areas or roads, management strategies, volunteer participation, ownership characteristics, and the initial motivation for the project. Plant diversity, floristic quality index, and metrics developed using the New York Rapid Assessment Method (RAM) for wetlands were used as response variables for ecological quality. Potential predictor variables were evaluated using both univariate and multivariate analyses. I further assessed the role of stakeholders at two sites using semi-structured interviews. These qualitative results were used to evaluate reciprocal interactions between restoration outcomes and stakeholder communities. I found that the social context associated with management, public use/awareness, volunteer participation, and ownership of a site impacted ecological outcomes, suggesting that these factors likely influenced the abiotic and biotic relationships that are key to wetland function. These are leverage points that drive ecological success and delivery of ecosystem services, and thus integrating them into projects at the outset may improve management and planning and long-term positive outcomes. I present a new framework for wetland management based on these results to improve long-term engagement and ensure future wetland health.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Wetland restoration--New York (State)--Evaluation; Wetland management--New York (State); Wetland ecology--New York (State); Ecosystem services--New York (State)--Planning; Urban ecology (Sociology)--New York (State); Urban ecology (Biology)--New York (State)

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Environmental Science (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences (COS)


Anna Christina Tyler

Advisor/Committee Member

Evelyn Brister

Advisor/Committee Member

Kristoffer Whitney


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes