News & CommentEcology

Restored Wetlands Flunk Real-World Test

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Science  17 Apr 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5362, pp. 371-372
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5362.371

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VINELAND, NEW JERSEY-- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that a 12-hectare plot near San Diego, created in 1985 to replace natural wetlands destroyed by construction projects, has failed to attract the endangered bird for which it was supposed to provide habitat and ordered the owner of the land to undertake further restoration work. This and other setbacks have led researchers to question the assumptions now driving wetlands restoration in the United States, as evidenced by a recent tidal wetlands meeting here. Some ecologists argue that the science is too young for successful restorations on a grand scale, while others say that given enough time, today's failures may become successes.