Riparian Habitat Dissimilarities in Restored and Reference Streams are Associated with Differences in Turtle Communities in the Southeastern Piedmont

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© 2014, Society of Wetland Scientists. Few studies have assessed whether restored streams and riparian floodplains support reference communities of certain groups of freshwater organisms, such as turtles. This exploratory study compared turtle assemblages in six reference and six restored streams in the North Carolina Piedmont, which were assessed using standard trapping practices with baited hoop nets. We also quantified turtle-relevant habitat characteristics (structure, water quality, vegetation) through reach-scale surveys to assess potential differences in turtle composition. Turtle abundance at restored sites was more than twice that of references sites and trends existed in the distribution of turtle species, but neither abundance nor composition was found to be statistically different. Habitat characteristics that affect turtle communities were not equivalent between sites, with reference streams having higher canopy cover, and lower total phosphorus, dissolved oxygen and total suspended solids than restored streams. Mantel’s test and non-metric multidimensional scaling plots indicated that turtle composition was significantly correlated with habitat and vegetation, and that turtle communities were generally separated between restored and reference streams. These findings suggest a pattern that restored streams with riparian wetlands may provide more suitable habitat than reference streams for most southeastern Piedmont turtle species, but further studies are required to fully examine these patterns.






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Dudley, MP, M Ho and CJ Richardson (2014). Riparian Habitat Dissimilarities in Restored and Reference Streams are Associated with Differences in Turtle Communities in the Southeastern Piedmont. Wetlands, 35(1). pp. 147–157. 10.1007/s13157-014-0603-5 Retrieved from

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Curtis J. Richardson

Research Professor of Resource Ecology in the Division of Environmental Science and Policy

Curtis J. Richardson is Professor of Resource Ecology and founding Director of the Duke University Wetland Center in the Nicholas School of the Environment. Dr. Richardson earned his degrees from the State University of New York and the University of Tennessee.

His research interests in applied ecology focus on long-term ecosystem response to large-scale perturbations such as climate change, toxic materials, trace metals, flooding, or nutrient additions. He has specific interests in phosphorus nutrient dynamics in wetlands and the effects of environmental stress on plant communities and ecosystem functions and services. The objectives of his research are to utilize ecological principles to develop new approaches to environmental problem solving. The goal of his research is to provide predictive models and approaches to aid in the management of ecosystems.

Recent research activities: 1) wetland restoration of plant communities and its effects on regional water quality and nutrient biogeochemical cycles, 2) the development of ecosystem metrics as indices of wetland restoration success, 3) the effects of nanomaterial on wetland and stream ecosystem processes, 4) the development of ecological thresholds along environmental gradients, 5) wetland development trends and restoration in coastal southeastern United States, 6) the development of an outdoor wetland and stream research and teaching laboratory on Duke Forest, 7) differential nutrient limitation (DNL) as a mechanism to overcome N or P limitations across trophic levels in wetland ecosystems, and 8) carbon sequestration in coastal North Carolina pocosins.

Richardson oversees the main analytical lab in NSOE, which is open to students and faculty. Dr. Richardson has been listed in Who's Who in Science™ annually since 1989 and was elected President of the Society of Wetland Scientists in 1987-88. He has served on many editorial review committees for peer-reviewed scientific journals, and he is a past Chair of the Nicholas School Division of Environmental Sciences and Policy. Dr. Richardson is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society of Wetland Scientists, and the Soil Science Society of America.

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