FIGURE 2–1 Percent plant cover on created or restored coastal wetlands on the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico (GOM) coasts. A second-degree polynomial fit of the data is shown. Note that 100% cover was achieved in most of the Atlantic wetlands within 5 years. SOURCE: Adapted from Matthews and Minello (1994).

The animal components of communities may develop at quite different rates than do plants at mitigation sites. Mobile species may migrate in and colonize with the first floodwaters. Even with fish, however, simple analyses of population structure indicate that the trajectory from colonization to stability is not equal or smooth among population types. For one study, Rulifson (1991) surveyed a created salt marsh constructed as a mitigation site in North Carolina. Although this study was only for a single site, the findings are important. Rulifson found that the number of species captured with one piece of gear (trawl) became more like the number of species in the reference marsh within 20 months and after 42 months for fish collected with shallower-water gear (Wegener Ring). Neither the number of organisms captured with each gear type nor the number of similar species was stable after 4 years. The equilibrium position of various fisheries parameters was not reached within 4 years of the man-

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