Missouri River Mitigation: Implementation of Amphibian Monitoring and Adaptive Management for Wetland Restoration Evaluation

Wetlands are among the most important and complex ecosystems in the world. They contribute to nutrient cycling, the hydrologic cycle, and provide critical habitat for many plants, fish, and wildlife. Channelization of Missouri River resulted in the loss of many floodplain wetlands. Recognition of the importance of wetlands has led to legislation that has increased wetland restoration. Despite ongoing restoration efforts, there are few ecologically-based performance guidelines, and managers need methods to quantify and assess the success of restored riverine wetland systems.


In 2008 a multi-institutional project funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was initiated in four states (Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska). The main goal of the project is to assess the success of previously restored wetlands and to create wetland restoration guidelines for future use. To determine restoration success, herpetofauna monitoring was established on previously restored wetlands. Frog call surveys and tadpole dip net surveys were conducted and analyzed using occupancy techniques to help determine restoration success. Amphibians were chosen for monitoring because they are globally declining, they integrate terrestrial and aquatic environments, and because they are good indicators of wetland restoration success. The focus areas for the Nebraska Coop Unit are three Missouri River bends in Nebraska, a subset of the overall project.

Current Status

This project is complete. The amphibian monitoring data was used to conduct a comparison of frog call surveys and tadpole dip net occupancy results, a novel co-occurrence analysis for frog call surveys, and a functional connectivity analysis based on anuran dispersal distances. All analyses were performed to contribute to the overall goal of defining successful wetland restoration and creating wetland restoration guidelines for the future. The final report includes results from all four participating states: Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.

Associated Files
Releasing fish caught in net (courtesy Reece Allen)
Releasing fish caught in net (courtesy Reece Allen)
Turtle from study
Turtle from study
Principal Investigator(s)
-Craig R. Allen, NE CFWRU; Martin Simon, New Mexico Environmental Department
Graduate Student(s)
-Michelle Hellman (2013) , Ashley VanderHam (2014)
-U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers