The proposed research aims to answer the question of whether or not a mitigated wetland can eventually reach equivalent organic matter levels of a natural wetland and if its overall creation is a sufficient replacement for the one that was lost.
Organic matter is vital to the success of any ecosystem (ref) . It is comprised of nutrients from decayed matter and includes the elements nitrogen and phosphorous, both of which are necessary for plant survival (ref). It has a primary role in the characterization of wetlands because its ability to hold water determines the type of vegetation that inhabits the ecosystem. Natural wetlands in the U.S. are drastically declining because of displacement. Section 404 of the Clean Water Act mandates that destroyed wetlands be replaced accordingly, but many people who abide by this law do not or cannot ensure that the created wetland reaches equivalent functional levels of the one it replaced because, as stated in Section 404, the deadline for creating a wetland is five years, and in that short amount of time factors such as organic matter levels are often overlooked because they are not able to reach the levels of the original wetland.