Nature versus nurture: Functional assessment of restoration effects on wetland services using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy



[1] Land-use change has altered the ability of wetlands to provide vital services such as nutrient retention. While compensatory practices attempt to restore degraded wetlands and their functions, it is difficult to evaluate the recovery of soil biogeochemical functions that are critical for restoration of ecosystem services. Using solution 31P Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, we examined the chemical forms of phosphorus (P) in soils from wetlands located across a land-use gradient. We report that soil P diversity, a functional attribute, was lowest in farmland, and greatest in native wetlands. Soil P diversity increased with age of restoration, indicating restoration of biogeochemical function. The trend in soil P diversity was similar to documented trends in soil bacterial taxonomic composition but opposite that of soil bacterial diversity at our study sites. These findings provide insights into links between ecosystem structure and function and provide a tool for evaluating the success of ecosystem restoration efforts.