Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Ervin, Gary N.

Committee Member

Wallace, Lisa

Committee Member

Brooks, Christopher P.

Committee Member

Kröger, Robert

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Biological Sciences

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Biological Sciences


Interest in, and rates of, wetland restoration have increased over the past several decades. However, despite proliferations of restored wetlands across the landscape, the structural and functional restoration success of these systems is unclear. Thus, understanding factors and processes that influence wetland characteristics is of considerable interest. This study focuses on herbaceous wetlands in the Mississippi River Alluvial Valley (MAV), a largely agricultural region interspersed with restored and naturally occurring wetlands. Chapter I is an introduction and provides a background to wetlands, wetland ecology, and the current state of wetland restoration in the United States. Chapter II focuses on factors which affect seedling density and similarities between standing vegetation, germinated seedlings, and early successional stage assemblages. Seedling density was heavily influenced by hydrology while richness and diversity were similar between restored and non-managed wetlands. Landscape-level factors affected seedling density, while germinated seedlings did not reflect standing vegetation in MAV wetlands. In Chapter III, I examine the impact of agricultural stressors on wetland plant assemblage development. Resulting assemblages showed strong fidelity to wetland soil site of origin while richness and diversity were negatively affected by elevated stressor levels. In Chapter IV, I compare characteristics between non-managed and restored wetlands in the MAV. These wetlands differed hydrologically, had different levels of soil organic matter, were dissimilar in plant assemblage composition, and varied by surrounding land use/cover. Finally, Chapter V is a discussion of the results and places this work within a larger context.