A new Biological Reviews study provides a comprehensive assessment of how changes to wetlands affect animals, and the authors use their findings to provide recommendations for managing wetlands to maximise their biodiversity.
For the study, researchers characterised how animals respond to four key drivers of wetland alteration: agriculture, mining, restoration, and urbanisation. Population and community-based measures within altered wetlands were largely comparable to those within reference wetlands; however, individual fitness measures — such as survival — were often lower.
"Lots of animals live and feed in human-altered wetlands, so often we presume they provide good habitat. But our research has found that many animals within these habitats suffer reduced survival and reproduction, due in part to high levels of pollution," said Michael Sievers, lead author of the study. "The role of wetlands in human-altered ecosystems is thus complex, as they may represent important habitat but also pose potential risks to animals."