Evaluating the success of restoration projects requires well-designed studies. Among the decisions that need to be made are what taxonomic groups to study and when to conduct the monitoring. To explore how these decisions can influence assessments of restoration success, we examined species richness and composition data collected over several years on different terrestrial fauna (landbirds, rodents, bees, and beetles) at Sacramento River restoration and remnant riparian sites. Our selection of study organisms enabled us to ask whether variability in species richness among restoration sites is less for vagile taxa than for sedentary taxa, and if invertebrates display greater variability among sites than vertebrates. Our results demonstrate that responses to restoration can vary depending upon the season when it is assessed, and the taxa that are studied. For all taxa except bees, there was considerable variability in the relative performance of taxa at restoration sites from one sampling date to the next, such that the relative ranking of the sites often changed dramatically. Comparisons of β -diversity (variability in species richness across sites) revealed that certain taxonomic groups were more spatially variable in their response to restoration than others. Among vertebrates, sedentary taxa (rodents) had significantly higher variability in species richness across sites than highly vagile taxa (birds); however, no such pattern was observed for invertebrates. Overall, vertebrates had lower variability than invertebrates, suggesting that evaluations of restoration success based on a few better-known taxonomic groups (e.g., birds, rodents) may be inadequate to represent the biodiversity response of other groups (e.g., insects).