Diversity of herpetofauna at restored cranberry bogs: A comparative survey of herpetofaunal diversity at a restored wetland in comparison to a retired cranberry bog to assess the restoration success

Wetlands perform critical ecological functions and provide wildlife habitats. Yet, wetland degradation continues at a global scale. In Massachusetts, USA, wetland restoration has reached remarkable heights, partly promoted by the retirement of cranberry bogs. In this study, to assess the effectiveness of cranberry-farm restoration for conservation of native herpetofauna, we surveyed both retired and restored cranberry bogs in south-eastern Massachusetts. Using both visual encounter surveys and baited aquatic traps, we documented herpetofaunal species and their relative abundance. Both survey methods combined, the cumulative herpetofaunal species richness at the restored bogs (16) exceeded that of the retired bogs (11). Our trap surveys indicated that the amphibian species richness at the retired bog was significantly greater than that of the restored bog. In contrast, reptilian species richness as well as the relative abundance of both amphibians and reptiles were significantly greater at the restored bog compared to the retired bog. Subsequent analyses we performed identified that greater habitat heterogeneity emerging from active restoration intervention was the underlying driver of elevated richness and abundance. Most frequently encountered herpetofauna at the restored versus retired bogs were habitat generalists with broader geographic ranges and are not of conservation concern. Our findings suggest that the restored bog we monitored is still in the early-recovery phase after active intervention. We urge the need for long-term herpetofaunal inventories via systematic, standard surveys to assess restoration success. 



R.A. Christen
A.K. Dewey
A.N. Gouthro