Restoration Ecology

Published by Wiley
Online ISSN: 1526-100X
Publications
Chapter
Humans fragment landscapes to the detriment of wildlife. We review why fragmentation is detrimental to wildlife (especially birds), review the effects of urbanization on birds inhabiting nearby native habitats, suggest how restoration ecologists can minimize these effects, and discuss future research needs. We emphasize the importance of individual fitness to determining community composition. This means that reproduction, survivorship, and dispersal (not simply community composition) must be maintained, restored, and monitored. We suggest that the severity of the effects of fragmentation are determined by (1) the natural disturbance regime, (2) the similarity of the anthropogenic matrix to the natural matrix, and (3) the persistence of the anthropogenic change. As a result, urbanization is likely to produce greater effects of fragmentation than either agriculture or timber harvest. Restoration ecologists, land managers, and urban planners can help maintain native birds in fragmented landscapes by a combination of short- and long-term actions designed to restore ecological function (not just shape and structure) to fragments, including: (1) maintaining native vegetation, deadwood, and other nesting structures in the fragment, (2) managing the landscape surrounding the fragment (matrix), not just the fragment, (3) making the matrix more like the native habitat fragments, (4) increasing the foliage height diversity within fragments, (5) designing buffers that reduce penetration of undesirable agents from the matrix, (6) recognizing that human activity is not compatible with interior conditions, (7) actively managing mammal populations in fragments, (8) discouraging open lawn on public and private property, (9) providing statutory recognition of the value of complexes of small wetlands, (10) integrating urban parks into the native habitat system, (11) anticipating urbanization and seeking creative ways to increase native habitat and manage it collectively, (12) reducing the growing effects of urbanization on once remote natural areas, (13) realizing that fragments may be best suited to conserve only a few species, (14) developing monitoring programs that measure fitness, and (15) developing a new educational paradigm.
 
Article
Abstract We used differences in soil carbon δ13C values between forested sites and grasslands dominated by the C4 grass Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) to detect the presence of former grasslands in the historical landscape of the coastal sand plain of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, U.S.A. Soil δ13C was measured at (1) sites with long-term forest or grassland vegetation and (2) sites with known histories where forest vegetation invaded grassland and where forest converted to grassland. The δ13C of soil under long-term grassland was –24.1‰ at 0 to 2 cm depth and –23.4‰ at 2 to 10 cm and was enriched by 3.4‰ and 2.8‰ compared with soil under long-term forest. In forests that invaded grasslands dominated by S. scoparium, soil δ13C decreased as C derived from trees replaced C from S. scoparium. This decline occurred faster in surface soils and in the light soil organic matter fraction than in the mineral soil. In forests that converted to grasslands, soil δ13C increased and the rate of increase was similar in surface and mineral soil and in the different soil organic matter fractions. Rates of change indicated that soil δ13C could be used to detect changes in vegetation involving the presence or absence of S. scoparium during the last 150 years. Application of this model to a potential grassland restoration site on Martha's Vineyard where the landscape history was not known indicated that the site was previously unoccupied by S. scoparium during this time. The δ13C of surface mineral soil can be useful for detecting the presence of historic S. scoparium grasslands but only in the period well after European settlement of these coastal sand plain landscapes.
 
Article
At least 43 agriculture fields were built in south Louisiana wetlands between 1900 and 1920 using pumps and levees. All but one project is now abandoned as a result of soil subsidence, financial difficulties, or multiple levee failures. Some are now in flood-protected urban zones, and the remainder are mostly open water. The total area of abandoned agricultural fields in 1990 is large (> 80,000 ha), and their levees continue to deteriorate naturally. Ten failed or abandoned coastal agricultural impoundments (22,680 ha) were examined to determine recent wetland restoration or regression rates from 1978 to 1988. Wetland area and levee length were determined from aerial photography for 1978,1983,1985, and 1988. Average wetland change rates for all areas ranged from −4.28 to +2.54% per year from 1978 to 1988. One site gained wetland area between 1978 and 1988 (77 ha/yr), and four sites gained wetland area between 1985 and 1988 (range 14–439 ha/yr). Wetland area in the other sites either remained stable or declined during the study period. The results from a multiple regression model indicate that restoration is inversely related to impoundment size and directly related to levee reduction. Results from a multiple regression model indicate that active levee removal will probably enhance wetland restoration rates at a very favorable cost (< $1/ha) and will be sustainable with little additional management.
 
Article
The reestablishment of native shrubs is part of the mandate under which mining companies extract mineral resources in Wyoming and other western states. Post-mining shrub density and species mixtures have been topics debated by various mine reclamation stake holders. By law, coal-mined lands in Wyoming must now meet a post-mining shrub density of 1 shrub/m2 on 20% of the affected area. To better understand the long-term results of shrub reclamation methods, we measured shrub density by species in 14 pre-1985 seedings at eight mines in three geographic regions of Wyoming. The sites studied were selected as Atriplex canescens (Pursh) Nutt. (fourwing saltbush) and grass or as Artemisia tridentata Nutt. ssp. wyomingensis (Beetle and Young) (Wyoming big sagebrush), fourwing saltbush, and grass post-mining communities. Shrub density and composition varied by site but typically reflected the seed mixtures used. Seedings that used a diversity of shrub species generally had greater 1994 shrub densities. Seeding rates between 60 and 1000 shrub seeds/m2 had a positive, linear relationship with shrub density up to 0.6 shrubs/m2 when sagebrush was part of the shrub seed mixture. We conclude that the likelihood of meeting the shrub standard can be enhanced by seeding diverse shrub mixtures at high seeding rates.
 
Article
In 1997, a plan to restore Elk (Cervus elaphus) to Ontario was approved by the provincial government. The objective of the Ontario elk restoration program, a multipartnered collaboration, was to restore a species that had been extirpated from the province during the 1800s. During 1998–2001, 460 elk were acquired from Elk Island National Park, Alberta, for release in four areas of Ontario. As greater than 90% of the elk were radio collared, monitoring provided detailed information on the dynamics of the four populations. Comprehensive research projects using graduate students were implemented to determine the environmental impact of releasing elk in Ontario. Those studies are in progress or have been completed and include the effect of wolf predation on restored elk, white-tailed deer and elk resource overlap, the development of genetic profiles for elk, and solutions for elk/human conflicts. Mortality of the released elk averaged 41% (190/460) during 1998–2004 with annual mortality generally declining over time in each release area. The primary causes of elk mortality included wolf predation (25% of mortalities), illegal shooting (13%), stress-related emaciation (13%) (partially due to the stress of relocation), bacterial infections (7%), and collisions with vehicles (6%). Productivity has been high in one of the release areas with 24–65% of the cows being observed with calves during late winter surveys. However, productivity has been low in two of the northern release areas due to a variety of factors including wolf predation. In some areas, dispersion of elk appeared to be related to the length of time animals were kept in pens prior to release. The precalving population estimate for Ontario in March 2004 was 375–440 elk. A comprehensive program review was conducted in 2003/2004 that included recommendations relating to the future management of elk in Ontario.
 
Article
Many ecosystems have been transformed, or degraded by human use, and restoration offers an opportunity to recover services and benefits, not to mention intrinsic values. We assessed whether restoration scientists and practitioners use their projects to demonstrate the benefits restoration can provide in their peer-reviewed publications. We evaluated a sample of the academic literature to determine whether links are made explicit between ecological restoration, society, and public policy related to natural capital. We analyzed 1,582 peer-reviewed papers dealing with ecological restoration published between 1 January 2000 and 30 September 2008 in 13 leading scientific journals. As selection criterion, we considered papers that contained either “restoration” or “rehabilitation” in their title, abstract, or keywords. Furthermore, as one-third of the papers were published in Restoration Ecology, we used that journal as a reference for comparison with all the other journals. We readily acknowledge that aquatic ecosystems are under-represented, and that the largely inaccessible gray literature was ignored. Within these constraints, we found clear evidence that restoration practitioners are failing to signal links between ecological restoration, society, and policy, and are underselling the evidence of benefits of restoration as a worthwhile investment for society. We discuss this assertion and illustrate it with samples of our findings—with regards to (1) the geographical and institutional affiliations of authors; (2) the choice of ecosystems studied, methods employed, monitoring schemes applied, and the spatial scale of studies; and (3) weak links to payments for ecosystem service setups, agriculture, and ramifications for public policy.
 
Article
A sowing experiment was carried out using three endemic secondary successional species that commonly co-occur with Pinus halepensis in afforestations in southeast Spain. The experiment simulated the natural arrangement of needle litter over soil to test the litter's effect on seedling emergence and early growth of dwarf-shrubs and annual species, the main components of some European Habitats of Community Interest in Spain. Three sowing treatments were compared in a growth chamber: (1) soil without litter taken from clearings in a pine plantation (BARE); (2) intact soil and litter forming two distinct layers as in the field (PINE); and (3) soil and pine litter mixed in the laboratory (PINEMX). Seedling emergence of Diplotaxis harra and Thymus zygis were seven and two times higher, respectively, on BARE than on the pine litter treatments. Pine litter significantly decreased seedling biomass, length, and number of leaves of D. harra and T. zygis. Thymus capitatum was weakly affected by the presence of pine litter. We suggest that plant recruitment in the understory of P. halepensis is partially controlled by interference of pine litter, which might affect dynamics of the studied species. We propose that management practices counteract this negative effect by manipulating the pine litter layer to achieve successful ecological restoration and conservation of endemic-rich secondary communities in Natura 2000 sites in semiarid western Mediterranean areas.
 
Article
In a recent editorial, I discussed how the culture of science, heterogeneity of nature, and real-world human complexities can limit the practical relevance of formal scientific research and argued that less formal approaches might often be more efficient and effective. Giardina et al. criticized this editorial and argued that formal science has and increasingly will play a central role in ecological restoration in particular and human progress in general. Here, I respond to these arguments and expand upon the ideas presented in my previous editorial. I further illustrate how despite superficial appearances the utilitarian value of formal science may often be largely indirect. I also argue that the complexities of ecological and human systems combined with the subjective values and political beliefs underlying restoration make transforming this discipline into a unified “hard science” virtually impossible. Because values and politics also underlie most environmental conflicts, and scientific inquiry is inherently unsuitable for resolving these kinds of disputes, the future success of restoration may depend more on political support than scientific progress. Dogmatic, nonfalsifiable faith in the universal superiority of “rigorous” scientific knowledge and methodologies can foster arrogance and intolerance and blind us to the ephemeral nature of scientific “truths” and the double-edged sword of scientific “progress.” My hope is that Society for Ecological Restoration International (SERI) will remain a big inclusive tent that embraces a healthy diversity of foci and approaches that emulate the extraordinary diversity we find within the natural ecosystems and human cultures we strive to preserve, restore, and reconnect.
 
Article
Cabin (2007) asks whether formal science is an effective framework and methodology for designing and implementing ecological restoration programs. He argues that beyond certain ancillary benefits, restoration science has little of practical value to offer the practice of restoration. He goes on to suggest that restoration science most often represents an impediment to restoration practice because an “ivory tower” mentality limits the utility of experiments and diverts research dollars away from answering practical questions. His conclusion is that a nonscientific gardening approach may be more effective at restoring degraded ecosystems. We disagree with this perspective because: (1) restoration science has moved beyond exclusively using “square grids” placed on small patches of land to examine treatment effects on species representation; (2) Cabin’s critique greatly undervalues the contribution of science to restoration practice even where the input of restoration scientists is not directly evident; and (3) the practice of restoration is unlikely to advance beyond small-scale and truly haphazard successes without well-designed studies that can provide peer-reviewed and widely accessible published information on the mechanisms underlying both successes and failures. We conclude that through integration with other disciplines, restoration science increasingly will provide novel approaches and tools needed to restore ecosystem composition, structure, and function at stand to landscape scales. As with the broader role of science in the human enterprise (Sagan 1996), the contribution of restoration science to restoration practice can only grow as the discipline matures.
 
Article
In their article “Assessing the evidence base for restoration in South Africa,” Ntshotsho et al. attempt to determine whether restoration in South Africa is evidence based by reporting on 10 projects' baseline data collection, goal setting, and monitoring. However, their contribution suffers from two major constraints. First, they confuse assessing the evidence base with assessing whether restoration is evidence based. Truly, assessing the evidence base would entail a systematic review of the quantity and quality of information available as well as the conclusions supported, perhaps in a meta-analytical framework. Determining if restoration is evidence based would require a survey of project managers to evaluate if they take decisions based on scientific information. Second, Ntshotsho et al. do not clearly distinguish successfully achieving restoration project goals from successfully restoring ecosystems. They largely focus on projects' socioeconomic goals without emphasizing that these goals are, by definition, secondary to ecological goals in determining restoration success. Thus, Ntshotsho et al. provide neither a sound assessment of the evidence base for restoration nor whether restoration is evidence based. To evaluate and encourage evidence-based restoration in South Africa, we recommend a simple assessment of the basis on which restoration managers make decisions, identification of factors precluding evidence-based decision-making, and development of platforms to evaluate the data collected in restoration programs to generate an evidence base from which to make defendable decisions.
 
Mean and total species richness, and mean abundance, of birds in each of five rehabilitation chronosequence stages (A–E) at Gove bauxite mine, northern Australian, as well as six off-mine plots in the surrounding open forest (O). Broken lines: solid box, mean number of species; open triangles, mean bird abundance; whiskers represent standard errors. Unbroken line, total species richness.
Ordination of bird community composition of six plots on each of five rehabilitation chronosequence stages (A–E) at Gove bauxite mine, northern Australian, as well as six off-mine plots in the surrounding open forest (O), produced by nonmetric MDS using Bray–Curtis dissimilarity measure.
Article
We compared the bird and woody plant communities of 2 to 24-year-old rehabilitation areas at Gove bauxite mine (20 km2) in the seasonal tropics of northern Australia, where Alcan has maintained a consistent rehabilitation program since it began operation in 1974. Birds were censused every second month over 2 years in 30 widely separated 0.25-ha plots, representing five chronosequence stages. These were also compared with six (“off-mine”) plots adjacent to the mine, which represented the annually burnt open forest typical of the region. Short-lived Acacias dominated the early chronosequence stages, whereas eucalypts dominated in later stages. Mean avian species richness and abundance increased significantly along the chronosequence, with values for the oldest rehabilitation plots being very similar to those for the off-mine plots. However, analyses of similarity revealed that the bird communities of the oldest rehabilitation plots were distinct from those of the off-mine plots, indicating that succession in rehabilitation areas is not following a direct trajectory toward the native open forest surrounding the mine. Several hollow-nesting bird species were scarce or absent in the rehabilitation areas, probably reflecting the absence of older hollow-bearing trees. Many differences between the rehabilitation and the off-mine areas in vegetation structure, woody flora, and avifauna appear to be related to the exclusion of fire from the minesite. We recommend the initiation of experiments designed to assess the effects of fire on the biota but caution against the use of fires for the majority of rehabilitation areas.
 
Article
Tallgrass prairie has been severely compromised by conversion to agriculture, making it among the most endangered ecosystems in North America. Expanding remnant tracts with restoration is key to conserving self-sustaining prairie. Although restoration managers rarely have the opportunity to perform large-scale replicated studies, experienced practitioners gain important insights into the effectiveness of management practices over time. By synthesizing expert knowledge, we can identify techniques with a proven record of on-the-ground success. Using two surveys, 38 tallgrass prairie managers responsible for a total of 12,659 ha in 11 states were asked to describe the effectiveness of site preparation, seeding techniques, and management (fire, grazing, mowing) and to list top threats and impediments to seeded restoration techniques. The most effective technique identified for restoring previously tilled land is to initiate soybean–corn rotations so that weeds can be controlled prior to native planting. Managers prefer to end on a soybean crop, and plant native species without tilling. In cases with native remnant vegetation, remnant restoration techniques are employed, but results indicate improvements are needed. Most managers prefer high diversity, forb-rich, local ecotype seed mixtures. Managers use fire, mowing, and grazing primarily to increase native plant diversity. Invasive plants are a major threat to restorations and a majority of managers (68%) devote at least 25% of their total restoration effort on this issue. Economic (land acquisition and labor) and seed availability limitations constrain restoration management most. Increased efficiency of seeding and invasive plant control could help alleviate barriers to restoration.
 
Article
We present results on changes in soil properties following land use change over an approximately 55-year period at Fort Benning, Georgia, U.S.A. Soil cores were taken at 129 locations that were categorized as reforested (field/bare ground in 1944 and forest in 1999), disturbed (field/bare ground in 1944 and 1999), or reference forests (forest in 1944 and 1999). Soil disturbance included historic agriculture (pre-1944) and military training (post-1944). Density in mineral soils exhibited a historic land use legacy effect (reference < reforested < disturbed). Rates of change in bulk density decreased with depth and estimated total times to reach reference forest levels ranged from 83 (0–10 cm) to 165 (30–40 cm) years. A land use legacy effect on C stock was apparent in the O-horizon and in 30- to 40-cm soil increment (reference > reforested > disturbed). Soil C stock in all other increments and in particulate organic matter was affected by disturbance; however, no legacy was apparent (reference = reforested > disturbed). For the entire soil profile (O-horizon to 40 cm), rate of C accrual was 28 g m−2 yr−1 (1.5%/yr). Nitrogen stocks were affected by disturbance in the O-horizon and 0- to 10-cm increment; however, no legacy effect was detected (reference = reforested > disturbed). Nitrogen accumulated at 0.56 g m−2 yr−1 (0.6%/yr) for the entire soil profile. At Fort Benning, soil C and N stocks of reforested stands were similar to those of reference forested stands after approximately 55 years. However, soil bulk density was greater on reforested stands than reference forest stands at 55 years and may require an additional century to reach reference levels.
 
Left: Abundant regeneration of woody species in the understory of native tree species plantations at La Selva. Right: Grasses and ferns dominate adjacent NR (nonplanted pasture) control sites. Notice the secondary forest at the back. Photos: F. Montagnini.
Article
Lack of seed dispersal can be an important obstacle to natural regeneration (NR) of degraded pastures in the humid tropics. Tree plantations can facilitate secondary forest succession by attracting seed dispersal agents from nearby forests. We studied seed rain and seed dispersal agents in 12–13 years old pure and mixed native tree plantations at La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica from July to December 2004. Plantations of Balizia elegans (5,522), Dipteryx panamensis (2,263), and Jacaranda copaia (2,091) had the greatest total seed abundance; treatments with the least total seed abundance were Calophyllum brasiliense (56), nonplanted abandoned pasture control 2 (353), Mixed Species 2 (389), and control 1 (836). Plantations of J. copaia and Hyeronima alchorneoides had the greatest seed species richness density, whereas the lowest seed species richness was found in the control treatments. The NR plots had more seeds dispersed by wind, whereas in the plantations, the most important dispersal agents were birds and mammals. The most abundant seeds were those of Miconia spp. (14,492), Psychotria bracheata (2,252), and the Poaceae family (1,346), all species from early successional stages. Plantations of native species are effective in attracting seed dispersal agents and thus facilitating regeneration of degraded pasturelands in the region.
 
Article
Exotic annual grasses are a major challenge to successful restoration in temperate and Mediterranean climates. Experiments to restore abandoned agricultural fields from exotic grassland to coastal sage scrub habitat were conducted over two years in southern California, U.S.A. Grass control methods were tested in 5 m2 plots using soil and vegetation treatments seeded with a mix of natives. The treatments compared grass-specific herbicide, mowing, and black plastic winter solarization with disking and a control. In year two, herbicide and mowing treatments were repeated on the first-year plots, plus new control and solarization plots were added. Treatments were evaluated using percent cover, richness and biomass of native and exotic plants. Disking alone reduced exotic grasses, but solarization was the most effective control in both years even without soil sterilization, and produced the highest cover of natives. Native richness was greatest in solarization and herbicide plots. Herbicide application reduced exotics and increased natives more than disking or mowing, but produced higher exotic forb biomass than solarization in the second year. Mowing reduced grass biomass and cover in both years, but did not improve native establishment more than disking. Solarization was the most effective restoration method, but grass-specific herbicide may be a valuable addition or alternative. Solarization using black plastic could improve restoration in regions with cool, wet summers or winter growing seasons by managing exotic seedbanks prior to seeding. While solarization may be impractical at very large scales, it will be useful for rapid establishment of annual assemblages on small scales.
 
Species planted as seeds or seedlings.*
Proportion mean dry weight per block by life form (grass, ferns, herbs, and vines) in the abandoned pasture in March and August 1996 and August 1997. Mean dry weight per block is listed at top right.
Soil temperature for the control and removal plots (26-28 October 1996).
Article
Sources of forest regeneration (soil seed bank, seed rain) and barriers to seedling establishment were examined in a recently abandoned pasture in eastern Puerto Rico. Few woody species were found in the soil seed bank or in the seed rain. The number of seeds and species in the seed rain and soil seed bank declined with distance from the adjacent secondary forest. Nine species naturally dispersed and colonized plots during the study, with the wind-dispersed tree Tabebuia heterophylla being the predominant colonizer (91% of all seedlings). Barriers to seedling establishment were determined using a blocked field experiment with eleven woody species representative of a variety of life histories. Each species was planted under the pasture vegetation (control) or in areas where all vegetation was removed (removal). Germination was enhanced for four species in the control treatment, five species were not affected, and two species did not germinate under either treatment. Survival to 6 months was higher in the removal treatment for two species. Seedling biomass was greater in the removal treatment at 12 months for one species. Seed mass was a good predictor of germination success and final shoot biomass, but not survival. This study demonstrates that seeding recently abandoned pastures with a mix of known pioneer species may accelerate the rate of secondary succession, but some species will have to be planted in later successional stages in order to overcome strong barriers to establishment.
 
Article
Abstract Endozoochory has proven to be a highly effective mechanism in the dispersal of viable seeds in Mediterranean grasslands. We studied the effect of cattle dung application on species richness, particularly on the reintroduction of species lost after abandonment. Sown and control plots were monitored for 3 years after dung sowing. We found a significant increase in small-scale richness, which may be attributed to the treatment, with the inclusion of species detected in the dung and in the grazed pasture. The differences in richness and floristic composition diminished over time. This experiment proves the potential utility of this treatment for the restoration of species richness in abandoned pastures, although supplementary steps are necessary, including further sowing and/or shrub cutting in subsequent years.
 
Effects of soil properties on vegetation cover. Each dot in the scatter plots represents a pair of derived vegetation/soil values for a 3,000-m2 sampling area. Statistical significance was indicated at the p≤ 0.001 (***), 0.001 < p≤ 0.01 (**), and 0.01 < p≤ 0.05 (*) levels.
Soil properties from three studied quarries and an adjacent lichee garden.
Vegetation distribution of the studied quarries
Article
The large number of abandoned quarries in many countries presents challenges for restoration of these extremely degraded habitats. To understand soil and plant development in these extreme habitats at a most critical stage of restoration, we evaluated the edaphic conditions and natural vegetation of three large quarries in southern China 3, 5, and 7 years following abandonment. Although soil fertility (organic matter, and N, P, K concentrations) did not differ significantly over a few years, it was much higher than would be expected from newly weathered soil and was comparable to that of the adjacent garden soil on level ground with no slope. This suggests that soil formation on the steep slopes of quarry cliffs is a secondary migration process rather than a primary weathering process. Vegetation cover increased from 10.6 to 18.6 and 23.4%, and species abundance increased from 8 to 11 and 12 species, and from 3 to 6 and 7 families. Plant species composition changed from predominantly annual and perennial herbaceous species to a more diverse community with drought-tolerant and heliophilous shrubs. The vegetation cover was highly positively correlated with soil depth and soil volume (p < 0.001), and also significantly correlated with soil organic matter, total N, and available N and P concentrations (p < 0.05). This suggests that vegetation succession is more limited by available soil volume than by soil fertility during the early stages of quarry restoration.
 
Article
Grasslands dominated by Sporobolus wrightii (big sacaton) once covered riparian floodplains in southwestern United States and northern Sonora, Mexico but now occupy less than 5% of their historic range, mostly due to clearing for agriculture. Many agricultural fields have been abandoned because of changing land uses, and efforts are under way to restore native grassland habitat. Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi are known to form associations with S. wrightii and can be a potential factor in grassland restoration efforts. The goal of this study was to determine the effects of mycorrhizal inoculation on S. wrightii during transplant production and in a restoration trial. Sporobolus wrightii was grown with and without AM fungi in 2.8-L tall pots and 150-mL nursery containers under greenhouse conditions for 8 weeks and then transplanted into an abandoned agricultural field. Plants were monitored for growth, survival, and mycorrhizal infection. Seedling emergence in the greenhouse was higher in pots with mycorrhizal inoculation, but inoculation had little effect on growth except more tillers were produced by pre-inoculated plants grown in the smaller containers. In the abandoned field, pre-inoculated plants had greater survival, basal diameter, and tiller and panicle production through the first two growing seasons. Plants started in smaller containers also had greater survival, height, basal diameter, and tiller production than those started in tall pots. Root colonization was detected in all plants by 2 months after transplanting but was not consistent throughout the experiment except for pre-inoculated plants started in the smaller containers. These results indicate that mycorrhizal inoculation can benefit restoration efforts in abandoned agriculture fields in semiarid regions.
 
Article
Lack of seed dispersal has been shown to be a major factor limiting tropical forest recovery in abandoned pasture land. The goal of this work was to determine whether bird perching structures serve to enhance seed dispersal and seedling establishment in an abandoned pasture in Costa Rica. Two types of perching structures (crossbar and branch) were tested. Bird visitation rates were significantly higher on branch than on crossbar perches. The number of animal-dispersed seeds was significantly higher below branch perches than below crossbar perches or in open pasture. Despite differences in seed rain, percent cover of animal-dispersed plants and the number of seedlings of animal-dispersed plant species were similar below both perch types and in open pasture. Baiting perches with bananas did not increase either bird visitation rates or seed rain. These results suggest that, although bird perching structures increase seed dispersal, they do not overcome other barriers to tropical forest recovery such as seed predation and low seed germination.
 
Article
Direct seeding methods to revegetate abandoned farmland were tested at a desert site west of Phoenix, Arizona. Native seeds were broadcast onto plots prepared by mulching, imprinting, chiseling, and fertilizing with phosphorous in a split-plot design. Each main plot was split into subplots that were not irrigated, irrigated with saline (3.25 dS/m) well water, or irrigated and hand weeded of Salsola iberica. Native seeds germinated poorly on all treatments, and three annual exotic weeds (Brassica nigra, S. iberica, and Schismus spp.) dominated the plots. None of the main plot treatments (mulching, imprinting, chiseling, or fertilizing) had a significant effect on seed germination or canopy cover. Irrigation increased plant cover on plots, but weeds dominated the cover (<4% native species, up to 50% weeds). Near the end of the second growing season a seed bank study was conducted in the greenhouse. Undisturbed desert soil had relatively few weed seeds and more native plant seeds than the disturbed agricultural soil samples, which had few viable native seeds and were dominated by Schismus spp., B. nigra, and S. iberica. The results illustrate the difficulty of establishing native plants on abandoned desert farmland due to the dominance of weedy species, the presence of salts in the soil, and the lack of adequate soil moisture in the treatments without supplemental irrigation.
 
Article
We explored different treatments to enhance the probability of sowed seeds of two early successional (ES, Cecropia obtusifolia and Ochroma pyramidale) and two late successional (LS, Brosimum costaricanum and Dialium guianense) species to escape predation and germinate in abandoned cattle-raising pasture fields in Southeastern Mexico. ES species were sown in groups of 50 seeds under three treatments: invertebrate exclusion, burial, and exposition to seedeaters. LS species were sown in groups of 10 seeds under three treatments: vertebrate exclusion, burial, and exposition to seedeaters. We registered seed predation and germination 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64 days after the initial sowing. Overall, ES showed higher predation rates (mean ± SE = 0.45 ± 0.07 seed seed−1 day−1; n = 3) than LS species (0.09 ± 0.02 seed seed−1 day−1). Cecropia obtusifolia was completely predated in all treatments after 8 days. Burial and exclusion treatments reduced final predation in circa 6% for O. pyramidale, relative to that of exposed seeds (85% after 8 days); most germination occurred in buried seeds (3.7%). In B. costaricanum, burial enabled germination by 10%; exposed and excluded seeds were removed 100%. Dialium guianense showed 12% germination in buried seeds and circa 20% of the seeds were not removed after 64 days. Direct sowing would be a recommended rainforest restoration practice for species with relatively large seeds if deposited in groups and buried. Studies which address variation across numerous sites are necessary in order to generate more consistent seed predation patterns and rainforest restoration principles in tropical pastures.
 
Article
An ecological functional assessment (EFA) was used on 10 southwest Costa Rica sites representing a chronosequence of formerly pastured lands to undisturbed tropical wet forest. Ecological functional assessment is a tool designed to assess wetland functions in the United States that was adapted to upland forests. Models to indicate characteristic soil hydrologic features and soil structure and aboveground spatial structure of habitat were used to examine the degree to which selected sites within the chronosequence approach the undisturbed condition of the natural forest. An index of the functional model for the maintenance of characteristic soil hydrologic features (such as infiltration, bulk density, etc.) showed that the 20-year-old secondary forest was at approximately 60% of the condition of the undisturbed sites, whereas active pasture was evaluated at approximately 20% of the reference undisturbed forest; 4- and 10-year-old sites were intermediate. The spatial structure of habitat model showed that 20-year-old secondary forest was approximately 50% of reference forest, whereas active pasture was approximately 10% of the condition of undisturbed forest; 4-year-old sites were evaluated at approximately 20% and 10-year-old sites at approximately 60% of the reference state. Overall the functional assessment process indicated that degraded tropical wet forest sites have recovered almost 60% of their functional qualities 10 years following pasture abandonment. These results indicate that EFA can be a useful technique for monitoring restoration programs in the tropics.
 
Article
Exotic plants have been found to use allelochemicals, positive plant–soil feedbacks, and high concentrations of soil nutrients to exercise a competitive advantage over native plants. Under laboratory conditions, activated carbon (AC) has shown the potential to reduce these advantages by sequestering organic compounds. It is not known, however, if AC can effectively sequester organics or reduce exotic plant growth under field conditions. On soils dominated by exotic plants, we found that AC additions (1% AC by mass in the top 10 cm of soil) reduced concentrations of extractable organic C and N and induced consistent changes in plant community composition. The cover of two dominant exotics, Bromus tectorum and Centaurea diffusa, decreased on AC plots compared to that on control plots (14–8% and 4–0.1%, respectively), and the cover of native perennial grasses increased on AC plots compared to that on control plots (1.4–3% cover). Despite promising responses to AC by these species, some exotic species responded positively to AC and some native species responded negatively to AC. Consequently, AC addition did not result in native plant communities similar to uninvaded sites, but AC did demonstrate potential as a soil-based exotic plant control tool, especially for B. tectorum and C. diffusa.
 
Article
Expansion of the nature conservation estate in northeastern New South Wales, Australia, has captured weed-infested timber plantations amid a mosaic of high conservation value lands. We adopted a state-and-transition approach to test the hypothesis that restoration barriers restrict the natural regeneration of native species in Eucalyptus grandis plantations infested by Lantana camara in Bongil Bongil National Park, New South Wales. Plantation tree thinning and weed control were applied in factorial combination at three sites (totaling to 4.5 ha). Topsoil chemistry responses to these interventions were attributable to the “ash bed” effect, with temporary increases in topsoil pHW and nitrate, particularly where canopy reduction was greatest. Other soil changes were minor, indicating that thinning and burning did not risk soil degradation. Plant species richness and functional group representation in the regenerating understorey were improved by the interventions. Regeneration of native potential canopy trees, understorey trees, shrubs and woody climbers, and perennial forbs all increased with canopy retention. Grass cover dominated the regeneration where canopy cover was less than 50%. In the absence of weed control, the cover of introduced shrubs increased with reduction in canopy cover, as did the rate of understorey regeneration generally. These responses indicate that thinning and weed control can reinstate succession, leading to structurally and compositionally diverse forest. Given the abundance of native woody regeneration under retained canopy, the lantana understorey was more important in inhibiting native regeneration. The experimental approach will promote efficient use of resources across the remaining 200 ha of low conservation value plantations in this national park.
 
Article
Tree seedlings are commonly planted to restore abandoned agricultural lands, whereas vegetative plantings have received little study. We evaluated the ability of 10 tree species to establish and survive over 3 years by planting 2-m-tall vegetative stakes at three sites in southern Costa Rica. We quantified above- and belowground stake and seedling biomass for two species (Erythrina poeppigiana and Gliricidia sepium) after 1 year and canopy cover and height of E. poeppigiana stakes and saplings at 3 years. We also compared economic, logistical, and ecological advantages of each methodology. Erythrina poeppigiana and E. berteroana had the highest number of live stakes by the study’s conclusion (>90%) and were among species with largest canopies. Most others ranged between 40 and 70% with highly site-specific survival and growth rates, whereas three species did poorly. Four species developed fruit by year 3, including Ficus pertusa and Acnistus arborescens, that are consumed by frugivores. Above- and belowground biomass was 7–50 times greater in stakes (65–125 g) than seedlings (2–15 g). Stake roots were considerably more extensive and reached lengths more than 6 m. Erythrina poeppigiana stakes had higher canopy cover than saplings after 3 years but not height. Seedlings are 2–10 times more expensive to establish, although transporting stakes is more cumbersome and the suite of species that establish vegetatively is limited. This underused technique should be included in the growing repertoire of tropical forest restoration tools. Given tradeoffs in propagation methods, a combination is likely to be most efficient and successful.
 
Article
Approximately half of the tropical biome is in some stage of recovery from past human disturbance, most of which is in secondary forests growing on abandoned agricultural lands and pastures. Reforestation of these abandoned lands, both natural and managed, has been proposed as a means to help offset increasing carbon emissions to the atmosphere. In this paper we discuss the potential of these forests to serve as sinks for atmospheric carbon dioxide in aboveground biomass and soils. A review of literature data shows that aboveground biomass increases at a rate of 6.2 Mg ha−1 yr−1 during the first 20 years of succession, and at a rate of 2.9 Mg ha−1 yr−1 over the first 80 years of regrowth. During the first 20 years of regrowth, forests in wet life zones have the fastest rate of aboveground carbon accumulation with reforestation, followed by dry and moist forests. Soil carbon accumulated at a rate of 0.41 Mg ha−1yr−1 over a 100-year period, and at faster rates during the first 20 years (1.30 Mg carbon ha−1 yr−1). Past land use affects the rate of both above- and belowground carbon sequestration. Forests growing on abandoned agricultural land accumulate biomass faster than other past land uses, while soil carbon accumulates faster on sites that were cleared but not developed, and on pasture sites. Our results indicate that tropical reforestation has the potential to serve as a carbon offset mechanism both above- and belowground for at least 40 to 80 years, and possibly much longer. More research is needed to determine the potential for longer-term carbon sequestration for mitigation of atmospheric CO2 emissions.
 
Schematic layout of experimental plantings (aan, Acaciella angustissima; aho, Ampelocera hottlei; bal, Brosimum alicastrum; cel, Castilla elastica; cod, Cedrela odorata; cpe, Ceiba pentandra; dgu, Dialium guianense; mca, Muntingia calabura; opy, Ochroma pyramidale; pac, Parmentiera aculeata; sma, Swietenia macrophylla; smo, Spondias mombin; ssa, Sapindus saponaria; spa, Schizolobium parahyba).
IRI (survival percentage × RGRheight× RGRdiameter) of 14 tree species varying on their successional status 18 months after transplantation into two abandoned pastures. ES, early-successional; LS, late-successional; MS, mid-successional.
Ecological and utilitarian characteristics of the 14 Lacandon rainforest tree species studied.
Site effects on performance variables of 14 rainforest tree species according to their successional status 18 months after planting (t-test, p < 0.05).
Article
The rainforest of Mexico has been degraded and severely fragmented, and urgently require restoration. However, the practice of restoration has been limited by the lack of species-specific data on survival and growth responses to local environmental variation. This study explores the differential performance of 14 wet tropical early-, mid- or late-successional tree species that were grown in two abandoned pastures with contrasting land-use histories. After 18 months, seedling survival and growth of at least 7 of the 14 tree species studied were significantly higher in the site with a much longer history of land use (site 2). Saplings of the three early-successional species showed exceptional growth rates. However, differences in performance were noted in relation to the differential soil properties between the experimental sites. Mid-successional species generally showed slow growth rates but high seedling survival, whereas late-successional species exhibited poor seedling survival at both the study sites. Stepwise linear regressions revealed that the species integrated response index combining survivorship and growth measurements, was influenced mostly by differences in soil pH between the two abandoned pastures. Our results suggest that local environmental variation among abandoned pastures of contrasting land-use histories influences sapling survival and growth. Furthermore, the similarity of responses among species with the same successional status allowed us to make some preliminary site and species-specific silvicultural recommendations. Future field experiments should extend the number of species and the range of environmental conditions to identify site “generalists” or more narrowly adapted species, that we would call “sensitive.”
 
The abundance of indicator and associated species in the four vegetation types. 
Some life history characteristics of the main species. 
Species response curves for (a) years since abandonment, (b) total P, and (c) soil water from a generalized linear model, with the options of Quadratic degree and Poisson distribution. For expansions of species names, see Table 1.
Article
In the Loess Plateau, China, arable cultivation of slope lands is common and associated with serious soil erosion. Planting trees or grass may control erosion, but planted species may consume more soil water and can threaten long-term ecosystem sustainability. Natural vegetation succession is an alternative ecological solution to restore degraded land, but there is a time cost, given that the establishment of natural vegetation, adequate to prevent soil erosion, is a longer process than planting. The aims of this study were to identify the environmental factors controlling the type of vegetation established on abandoned cropland and to identify candidate species that might be sown soon after abandonment to accelerate vegetation succession and establishment of natural vegetation to prevent soil erosion. A field survey of thirty-three 2 × 2–m plots was carried out in July 2003, recording age since abandonment, vegetation cover, and frequency of species together with major environmental and soil variables. Data were analyzed using correspondence analysis, classification tree analysis, and species response curves. Four vegetation types were identified and the data analysis confirmed the importance of time since abandonment, total P, and soil water in controlling the type of vegetation established. Among the dominant species in the three late-successional vegetation types, the most appropriate candidates for accelerating and directing vegetation succession were King Ranch bluestem (Bothriochloa ischaemum) and Lespedeza davurica (Leguminosae). These species possess combinations of the following characteristics: tolerance of low water and nutrient availability, fibrous root system and strong lateral vegetative spread, and a persistent seed bank.
 
Article
Using a multispecies seed sowing experiment, we investigated the roles of seed and microsite limitation in constraining the restoration of native prairie diversity and ecosystem function in an abandoned upland hayfield in northeastern Kansas. Seeds of 32 native and naturalized plant species from the regional pool were sown into undisturbed and experimentally disturbed field plots. After six growing seasons, experimental sowing led to major shifts in species and functional group composition, increases in native species abundance and floristic quality, declines in abundance of non-native species, and increases in plant diversity. These changes in community structure led to significant changes at the ecosystem level including increases in light capture, peak biomass, primary production, litter biomass, root biomass, and C storage in roots. Our findings reveal the importance of seed limitations in constraining the natural recovery of prairie vegetation, biodiversity, and ecosystem functioning in this grassland and confirm broadcast sowing as a useful tool for the restoration of upland hayfield sites.
 
Soil characteristics, percentage bound bovine serum albumin (BSA) (¼protein binding capacity), ergosterol content, net N mineralization, arginine (Arg) ammonification (¼potential N mineralization), and bacterial properties (numbers and growth on arginine) of the fields under study (0-10 cm ex-arable land and 3-13 cm heathland).
Article
In Western Europe, arable lands have been abandoned to increase the area of nature, such as Calluna vulgaris–dominated heathlands. However, the growth conditions, e.g., nutrient availability and lack of a phenolics-rich organic layer, on ex-arable sandy soils differ markedly from those of heathland and will favor fast-growing plant species. Succession toward Calluna-dominated heathland is expected to take decades unless intensive restoration management is applied. Here, we report a possible mechanism to explain the occurrence of Calluna patches (0.7–2.0 m diameter) in a 10-year abandoned agricultural field within a dominant vegetation of grasses and forbs. All roots sampled from the Calluna patches were colonized by ericoid mycorrhizal (ERM) and other endomycorrhizal fungi. Both nitrogen mineralization of soil organic N and potential nitrogen mineralization (arginine ammonification) were much lower in soil under Calluna patches than in the rest of the ex-arable soil, although other soil characteristics did not differ. The nitrogen to phosphorus ratio in Calluna shoots was much greater than that in shoots of grasses and forbs, indicating that the latter were more N limited. The results indicate that the association with ERM fungi is probably providing the host competitive superiority for nitrogen even in a soil with low organic matter content. Our results suggest that the conversion from arable land into heathland may be accomplished by the immediate establishment of Calluna seedlings and ERM inoculum when agricultural activities are stopped. This needs to be tested in controlled experiments.
 
Article
A number of experimental freshwater wetlands (150 m long × 75 m wide) with different ages since they were abandoned as rice fields, were used to analyze the prospects of multipurpose wetland restoration for such degraded areas. Nitrogen and phosphorus removal rate of the wetlands were determined monthly during the flooding season to estimate their efficiency as filters to remove nutrients from agricultural sewage. The number of wetland birds was recorded regularly to identify their habitat preferences. Both the temporal dynamics and changes in the spatial pattern of land use cover during the last 20 years were determined from aerial photographs and field analysis. All the wetlands appeared to be very efficient in the removal of nitrogen and phosphorus exported from rice fields. Usually 50–98% of the nitrogen and less than 50% of the soluble phosphorus were removed by the wetlands at any stage of restoration. Wetland birds preferred wetlands with intermediate plant cover for resting and sleeping activities better than rice fields and either very open wetlands or very dense ones with tall vegetation. Apart from the improvement in water quality and the restoration of natural habitats, restoration of wetland belts around lagoons will increase spatial heterogeneity and diversity of the landscape.
 
Article
In Western Europe, old abandoned mining sites and quarries are often of high biodiversity and conservation value due to the presence of a number of endangered species. In the southern part of Belgium (Wallonia), many ancient quarries near the river Meuse are rather small and were abandoned from 50 to more than 100 years ago. In 2003, we collected 26 ant species by pitfall trapping in four of these quarries. In addition to common ones, several rare species, usually associated with mesomorphic to xeromorphic grasslands, were found in high numbers. Quarries undergoing forest succession were dominated by eurytopic species and by species typical of wet shadowy places, a fauna far less valuable in terms of nature conservation. Therefore, we suggest a management that halts further forest succession of open mesomorphic and xeromorphic habitat patches in these quarries. To assess and monitor the nature value of the ant fauna of these sites, we propose a so-called habitat preference approach, wherein each species is assigned to one of the following three habitat preference categories: (1) eurytopic, (2) bound to wet shadow-rich habitats, or (3) bound to dry open habitats. The stenotopic species of the last category are all endangered in Belgium and of high conservation value. The proportion of the total number of captured specimens included in the latter habitat preference category group is strongly reduced as scrub and tree encroachment advances. This proportion can therefore be used as a proxy to monitor the effects of management measures that prevent further forest succession.
 
Article
Abandoned limestone quarries are hostile environments for plant and invertebrate colonization and establishment. The length of time taken for successful establishment by natural processes may be unacceptable for reclamation purposes; several techniques are used to reduce the time scales involved. A new technique, restoration blasting, aims to replicate natural daleside landforms by selective blasting of modern production quarry faces. We compare the flora and invertebrate fauna of restoration-blasted sites, hydro-seeded with daleside species, with naturally regenerating disused quarries and a natural daleside. Restoration-blasted sites were found to have less plant cover, more bare ground, fewer orders of invertebrates, and generally fewer animals within each order than the other two types of site. The disused quarries tended to have intermediate characteristics between the restoration-blasted sites and the natural daleside. The age of the site may be important in determining the plants and invertebrates occurring there. This may be related to the time available for establishment or a greater degree of settlement or stability within the biotic and abiotic components of the site. Although most of the results indicate that time since establishment may be important, some variations occur. In particular, the development of vegetation cover in areas grazed by rabbits is problematic. These results are important in the assessment of successful reclamation because the invertebrate fauna may contribute greatly to the overall system. Both plant and animal communities appear to be establishing well on the sites reclaimed by restoration blasting. Further monitoring will identify the speed at which such environments achieve the desired aim of replicating daleside communities and the communities best able to be sustained following this technique.
 
Article
Efforts to reforest tropical pasture with native tree species have increased in recent years, yet little is known about the physiology of most tropical trees. The goal of this study was to assess the effect of habitat on photosynthetic responses to light for seedlings of four native rainforest species (Calophyllum brasiliense, Ocotea glaucosericea, Ocotea whitei, and Sideroxylon portoricense) planted to facilitate tropical rainforest recovery in southern Costa Rica. Seedlings were planted in primary forest, in open abandoned pasture, and in the shade of remnant trees within the pasture. Growth, morphology, photosynthetic gas exchange responses to light, and chlorophyll fluorescence (an indication of the integrity of photosynthetic processes) were measured in the three habitats. Height and leaf area were generally greater for seedlings in tree shade compared to those in the forest and open pasture. Photosynthetic rates were higher for plants in open pasture and tree shade compared to those in the forest for two of the four species. Chlorophyll fluorescence results indicated flexibility in the photosynthetic processing of light energy that may help plants tolerate the bright light of the pasture. This study demonstrates that, for certain species, seedlings under remnant pasture trees do not exhibit the level of photosynthetic stress experienced in open abandoned pasture. Seedling responses to light, in combination with other factors such as increased nutrient input through litterfall, help explain the enhanced growth of seedlings under remnant pasture trees. Planting seedlings under remnant trees may increase the success of future efforts to restore tropical forest in abandoned agricultural land.
 
Article
The recovery of an ecosystem in response to a restoration program that relies on natural processes may be characterized by heterogeneous changes in species composition and structure. In most cases, such variability is natural and should even be welcomed. However, variability that arises from a specific restoration site, as opposed to randomly from all sites, may indicate problems with the restoration process and may jeopardize the outcome of a project. Here, we describe a technique to flag those sites and assemblages that tend to develop aberrantly. We use data on plant and animal assemblages, collected during routine monitoring operations over several surveys on a chronosequence of rehabilitating dune forests. Using this technique, we show that a bird assemblage on one of the sites at our study area on the coast of southern Africa tends to develop slower than expected. This site is situated farther than others from potential source areas (intact forests) and closer to human habitation. In essence, the technique uses a permutation test to identify ecological variables and assemblages that tend to be more variable than expected. It then focuses on these to identify specific aberrant sites. The technique allows management to concentrate scarce resources to determine the causes of aberrant changes, as well as possible mitigating actions, for specific sites instead of across the board. This cost-efficient rapid assessment technique will lead to improved chances of restoration success. It may be applied in all projects where a chronosequence of sites can be sampled repeatedly, as is often the case in post-mining restoration.
 
Article
To evaluate the effects of intraspecific hybridization of local and nonlocal genotypes on growth traits of progeny in Abies sachalinensis, we performed reciprocal crossing between nonlocal trees in a high-elevation zone (1,100–1,200 m asl) and local trees in a low-elevation zone (530 m asl) in Hokkaido, northern Japan, in 1979 and established a common garden experiment using local × local (female × male ), local × nonlocal , nonlocal × local , and nonlocal × nonlocal progeny in the low-elevation zone in 1986. Survival, height, diameter at breast height (dbh), needle nitrogen content, specific leaf area (SLA), and needle area per shoot diameter (NA) of 25-year-old progeny were measured in 2005. The survival rate was consistently high (>85% on average). Reductions in height and dbh were apparent in F1 hybrids compared with local × local progeny. Furthermore, outbreeding depression was significant in height growth of nonlocal × local F1 hybrids and in dbh of both F1 hybrids. Reductions in growth traits may be related to morphological needle traits, such as the low values of SLA and NA. Elevation guidelines for A. sachalinensis seed zones are discussed to ensure the long-term viability of both restored and native populations.
 
Article
Schemes to restore farmland biodiversity are often implemented at field scale whereas landscape scale factors are not considered. In a grassland dominated region in Switzerland, we tested whether the landscape factor habitat connectivity could possibly increase the effectiveness of an agri-environment scheme for meadows. We investigated two indicator groups with contrasting dispersal abilities, land snails and orthopterans (grasshoppers). We investigated 27 extensively managed meadows grouped into nine blocks. Each block consisted of three meadows differing in structural connectivity and land use history: one meadow represented long-term, semi-naturally managed calcareous grassland that was considered as the potential source habitat. The other two meadows were restoration meadows, created 4–6 years ago. One of these restoration meadows was adjacent to the potential source meadow, the other isolated from it. We found a significantly higher species diversity of both invertebrate groups in the potential source meadows compared to the restoration meadows. Communities of both taxa were more similar to the potential source meadows in connected than in isolated restoration meadows. The species diversity of bad dispersers was negatively affected by isolation, but the diversity of good dispersers was unaffected. With respect to individual species occurrences, however, even good dispersers were negatively affected by isolation. We conclude that structural connectivity of restoration meadows to potential source habitats is important for increasing the restoration success of invertebrate communities, particularly of those containing species with limited dispersal abilities.
 
Article
Previous research has indicated that many rocky intertidal macrophyte communities in southern California, and other locations around the world, have shifted from larger, highly productive, fleshy seaweeds toward a smaller, less productive, disturbance-tolerant flora. In widespread decline are ecologically important, canopy-forming, brown seaweeds, such as the southern California rockweed species Silvetia compressa. Restoration efforts are common for depleted biogenic species in other habitats, but restoration within rocky intertidal zones, particularly on wave-exposed coasts, has been largely unexplored. In two phases, we attempted to restore Silvetia populations on a southern California shore by transplanting live plants and experimentally investigating factors that affect their survival. In Phase I, we implemented a three-way factorial design where juvenile Silvetia thalli were transplanted at four sites with a combination of simulated canopy and herbivore exclusion treatments. Transplant survival was low, although enhanced by the presence of a canopy; site and herbivore presence did not affect survival. In Phase II, we used a two-way factorial design, transplanting two size classes of rockweeds (juveniles and reproductive adults) on horizontal and partially shaded, north-facing vertical surfaces at a target location where this rockweed has been missing since at least the 1970s. Transplant survival was moderate but lower than natural survival rates. Larger thalli exhibited significantly higher survival rates than smaller thalli in both the transplanted and naturally occurring populations, particularly on vertical surfaces. Higher mortality on horizontal surfaces may have been due to differences in desiccation stress and human trampling. Transplanting reproductive adults resulted in the subsequent recruitment of new individuals.
 
Article
Desertification can be an irreversible process due to positive feedback among degraded plant and soil dynamics. The recovery of semiarid degraded ecosystems may need human intervention. In restoration practices, the abiotic conditions often need to be improved to overcome the positive plant–soil feedback loops. Using nurse-plants to improve abiotic conditions for introduced individuals (facilitation) has been suggested as an alternative to direct abiotic amelioration. Here, we compared direct abiotic amelioration and facilitation as tools for restoration of semiarid grasslands in Spain. Seedlings and seeds of Lygeum spartum and Salsola vermiculata were planted and sown in a stably degraded semiarid area in Northeast Spain. Two levels of direct abiotic amelioration (ploughing and damming) and indirect abiotic amelioration through facilitation by Suaeda vera nurse shrubs were compared with a control with no amelioration treatment. The control treatment showed low plant establishment, confirming the practical irreversibility of the degraded state. Plant establishment was significantly higher in the three treatments with interventions than in the control treatment. The best treatment depended on the plant trait considered, but damming was in most cases better than plant facilitation. However, facilitation maintained the nutrient-rich topsoil layer. Given the relative success of facilitation, revegetation using the facilitative effect of nurse-plants would, in principle, be recommended for restoring semiarid grasslands. Direct abiotic amelioration would be needed under extreme degradation or harsh climatic conditions.
 
Effects of leaf litter on the germination and growth of three native herbs (n = 288 per species per treatment). Bars show means and SE for percent germination at 14 weeks (a), mean number of days to germination (b), mean aboveground biomass at 14 weeks (c), and mean number of leaves at 14 weeks (d) comparing the two litter treatments (Rhamnus cathartica and Acer saccharum). Asterisks represent significance at p < 0.05.
Light levels (mean ± standard error) among the three sites. (a) Light as mean log lux levels in each of the four treatments, averaged across the 2007 and 2008 growing seasons and corrected for day of year and time of day. Bars with different letters differ significantly by Tukey's HSD (α = 0.05). (b) Light levels normalized to the “native” plot levels at each site.
Comparison of soil characteristics (a) and soil PCA1 (b) between zones with and without buckthorn. Means and standard errors were calculated based on single samples from the three sites. Soil PCA1 values are scores from a principal components analysis based on all soil variables.
Performance of the four native herb species across the four canopy treatments averaged across sites. Performance was estimated as: (a) seedling survival, (b) seedling height, and (c) flowering percentage in Geranium maculatum (n = 81 per treatment), Thalictrum dasycarpum, Symphyotrichum lateriflorum, and Eurybia macrophylla (all n = 72 per treatment). Plotted values show mean values ± standard errors. Height values for E. macrophylla are not presented as the number of leaves was used to estimate growth. Significance levels as in Table 1.
Article
Fast-growing European buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) shrubs are aggressively invading woodlands in eastern and midwestern North America. Buckthorn casts dense shade, alters soil conditions, and may be allelopathic. We used greenhouse and field experiments to investigate above- and belowground effects of Rhamnus on four herbaceous species native to southern Wisconsin. In the greenhouse, we assessed how Rhamnus leaves and fruit affected seed germination and seedling growth relative to sugar maple (Acer saccharum) leaves. Fewer seeds of Eurybia macrophylla and Thalictrum dasycarpum germinated under Rhamnus leaves, and those that germinated were slowed. We planted seedlings of the four natives into four treatments at three sites in the field to assess how their survival, growth, and flowering respond to the separate and combined effects of light levels, buckthorn canopies, and buckthorn soils. Buckthorn consistently reduced native plant performance by diminishing survival, flowering, and growth in Thalictrum, survival and flowering in Eurybia, and flowering and growth in Symphyotrichum lateriflorum. Removing buckthorn canopies enhanced growth of these native species, but buckthorn soils separately inhibited growth at least as much (despite being more fertile). Buckthorn's impacts on native plants exceed effects attributable to light levels and soil fertility, suggesting allelopathy. Buckthorn reduced performance more in the uncommon species (Thalictrum and Eurybia) than the common species (Geranium maculatum and Symphyotrichum). As we do not yet know how long these inhibitory soil effects persist, we need additional research to learn how best to control buckthorn's impacts on native plant communities.
 
Article
The suitability of 24 native species for restoration above the timberline in Switzerland was assessed with demographic monitoring of their populations after transplanting. The plots were laid out in 1985–1986 and 1995–1996 on machine-graded ski runs using a total of 8,603 transplants of native grasses, legumes and forbs. Establishment conditions were improved with biodegradable wood-fiber mats and a small addition of garden soil. Transplant survival rates were generally good after 12 years. The regeneration of mixed stands was clearly recognizable because some transplants successfully reproduced by seed, and colonizers immigrated from the adjacent natural vegetation and neighboring restoration plots. Comparative studies of reproductive parameters in transplants and their donor population revealed that differences in seed production may become nonsignificant within a short time span. These fitness features have important diagnostic value for assessing restoration success and provide information on the performance of the same or closely related genotypes in their natural populations and in the restoration site. The plants studied showed species-specific traits in establishment after transplanting. Most species can be recommended for restoration in the alpine vegetation belt. The risk of restoration failure can be considerably reduced by using species with different life-history characteristics. From an ecological point of view, this method is a valid alternative to commercial revegetation using seed mixtures of non-native species and large amounts of fertilizers.
 
Article
Prescribed spring burning often contributes to a predominance of C4 grasses and low forb abundance and is impractical at many sites, especially near development. We tested raking after mowing as an alternative to prescribed burning in a reconstructed Minnesota prairie. We also tested mowing without raking as a possible means of maintaining prairie communities. Frequency, flowering stem abundance, and cover were measured for all plant species and native functional groups (C4 grasses, C3 graminoids, forbs, legumes, and annual or biennial forbs). Mowing alone did not differ from the control in its effect on any functional groups of plants. Round-headed bush clover (Lespedeza capitata), a legume, and Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), a biennial, increased in frequency with treatments that removed biomass (i.e., fire or raking), but they did not have significantly more flowering stems. Thus, new plants established well from seed, whereas the vitality of mature plants did not change. Raking had similar effects to burning on most functional groups, although flowering stems of C4 grasses were significantly more abundant after fire than after raking. Burning reduced some C3 forbs and grasses and favored the dominance of C4 grasses. Therefore, raking after mowing in the spring provides an alternative to prescribed burning that has many of the same positive aspects as fire but does not promote aggressive C4 grasses to the same extent.
 
Article
Prescribed burning in prairies influences soil nitrogen (N), which is the primary nutrient that limits plant growth and is an important factor in plant competition and diversity. The primary objective of the experiment described here was to better understand the changes in net N mineralization that occur after a fire. We compared soil properties after a fire with those following vegetation removal by mowing and raking in a restored prairie in southeastern Minnesota. The treatments occurred in the spring of two consecutive years. Calcium oxide, burnt lime, was added to some of the raked plots in the first year to mimic the deposition of basic cations during a fire, which cause an increase in soil pH. Aboveground biomass removal by raking or by burning had similar effects on soil moisture, temperature, and inorganic N. The removal treatments caused warmer and drier soil than in the untreated plots. The change in net N mineralization after raking was unaffected by the addition of lime. In the first year, with low rainfall, removal caused net N mineralization rates similar to those in the untreated controls, but during the second year, with heavy rainfall, net N mineralization rates were significantly higher after removal. We predict that if water is sufficient, increased soil temperature after biomass removal will increase soil microbial activity and net N mineralization, but during drought, water will limit microbial activity. Furthermore, depending on soil N concentrations, which are very high at this study site, altered soil microbial activity will have variable effects on net N mineralization.
 
Article
Species richness and sporocarp density of ectomycorrhizal fungi in stands of Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) in The Netherlands have decreased during the last decades. The lowest species diversity was found in P. sylvestris stands situated in areas with high atmospheric deposition of nitrogen originating from intensive livestock industry. In these stands, litter and humus have accumulated into thick layers, and the herbaceous understory vegetation is dominated by the grass Deschampsia flexuosa (wavy hair grass). Earlier investigations showed negative correlations between the number of species of ectomycorrhizal fungi above ground and the depth of humus layers. Our aim was to investigate whether removal of litter, humus layers, and herbaceous vegetation (sods)—so-called “sod cutting”—increased species diversity above ground and sporocarp density of ectomycorrhizal fungi in P. sylvestris stands of different age. Therefore, three P. sylvestris stands of different ages (planted in 1987, 1963, and 1924) on Haplic Arenosol were selected. In 1990, litter, humus layers, and herbaceous vegetation were removed to create nutrient-poor sandy soils without overlying litter and humus layers. Untreated plots served as controls. Surveys conducted in 1991, 1992, and 1993 indicated that sod cutting enhanced the species diversity and sporocarp density of ectomycorrhizal fungi. These results suggest that sod cutting is a way to restore ectomycorrhizal flora in medium-aged and old stands of P. sylvestris where litter and humus have accumulated.
 
Article
Herpetofauna are frequently cited as ideal indicators for environmental and restoration monitoring due to their importance to ecological functioning, dominance of vertebrate biomass, and sensitivity to environmental change. Despite this relevance, herpetofauna have yet to be fully integrated into comprehensive, community-scale restoration monitoring methodologies. We tested the applicability of one such method, abundance–biomass comparisons (ABCs), to monitoring restoration success in a longleaf pine ecosystem currently undergoing restoration via prescribed burning. W statistics (a metric of environmental perturbation) for herpetofaunal assemblages in longleaf pine stands managed under varying fire intervals closely tracked forest succession from recently burned longleaf pine stands to those characterized by longer times since last burn and high levels of hardwood encroachment. Our results suggest that ABCs may be an applicable method for terrestrial restoration monitoring that encompasses entire faunal assemblages and allows for generality in restoration or disturbance response. We emphasize, however, that applications of this method and others need to take into account the specific ecological characteristics of study organisms and the natural history of study sites to avoid incorrect interpretations of disturbance response and inappropriate management recommendations.
 
Article
Few ecosystem restoration studies evaluate whether arthropods are important components of ecosystem recovery. We tested the hypothesis that ponderosa pine restoration treatments would increase adult butterfly species richness and abundance as a direct result of increased understory diversity and abundance. To examine mechanisms that potentially affect adult butterfly distribution, we quantified host plant frequency, nectar plant abundance, and insolation (light intensity) in restoration treatment and control forests. This study is unique, because this is the first invertebrate monitoring in ponderosa pine forest restoration treatments in the U.S. Southwest and also because these treatments are the first replicated ponderosa pine restoration treatments at a landscape scale. Three patterns emerged: (1) butterfly species richness and abundance were 2 and 3 times greater, respectively, in restoration treatment units than in paired control forests 1 year after treatment, and 1.5 and 3.5 times greater, respectively, 2 years after treatment, ordination of control and treatment sampling units using butterfly assemblages showed significant separation of control and restoration treatment units after restoration treatment; (2) host plant and nectar plant species richness showed little difference between treated and control forests even 2 years after treatment; and (3) insolation (light intensity) was significantly greater in treated forests after restoration. We suggest that changes in the butterfly assemblage may occur due to light intensity effects before plant community changes occur or can be detected. Butterfly assemblage differences will have additional cascading effects on the ecosystem as prey for higher trophic levels and through plant interactions including herbivory and pollination.
 
Article
Abstract Historic fire return intervals in Artemesia tridentata (big sagebrush) ecosystems have been altered by livestock grazing, fire suppression, and other land management techniques resulting in ecological changes in these areas. Increases in abundance of woody vegetation may be causing declines in native herbaceous understory species. We examined the effects of prescribed fire on the morphology, abundance, and phenology of nine abundant forb (herbaceous dicot) species used selectively by Centrocercus urophasianus (Sage Grouse). In September 1997 prescribed fire was applied to four of eight randomly assigned 400-ha A.t. wyomingensis (Wyoming big sagebrush) study plots at Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, Oregon. Livestock had not grazed experimental plots since 1991. Burning caused morphological changes such as significantly greater numbers of racemes and flowers per raceme in Astragalus malachus (shaggy milkvetch-Legumoideae) (9 in burn vs. 6 in control; 23 in burn vs. 21 in control, respectively). Also, prescribed burning caused greater numbers of flowers in Phlox gracilis (microsteris-Polemoniaceae) (57 vs. 13), greater numbers of umbels and umbelletts in Lomatium nevadense (Nevada desert parsley-Umbellifereae) (4 vs. 2 and 59 vs. 31, respectively), greater numbers of flower heads in Crepis modocensis (Modoc hawksbeard-Compositae) (32 vs. 21), and greater number of flowers/cm3 in Phlox longifolia (longleaf phlox-Polemoniaceae) (0.11 vs. 0.06). Crown volume of Crepis modocensis (7,085 vs. 4,179 cm3) and Astragalus malachus (2,854 vs. 1,761 cm3) plants was greater in burned plots than control plots. However, burning resulted in a smaller crown area of Antennaria dimorpha (low pussytoes-Compositae) (20 vs. 37 cm2). Phenology and time of flowering were also affected by fire. The period of active growth for each species was extended later into the summer in burned plots ( p < 0.01). In addition, Crepis modocensis and Lomatium nevadense flowered 12 to 14 days earlier in burned plots. Fire had no effect on frequency, density, and relative abundance of seven of the nine studied species. Fire reduced the frequency and relative abundance of A. dimorpha and Phlox longifolia and reduced the density of A. dimorpha.
 
Article
More and more agricultural land in the Netherlands is becoming available for ecological restoration projects. However, nutrient levels in the top layer of the soils are high because the agricultural lands have been heavily fertilized for decades. As drainage ditches are no longer maintained when agricultural use ends, the agricultural lands usually become much wetter. As a result, former agricultural soils tend to develop extensive monotonous stands of Juncus effusus, which have little value from an ecological point of view. In this article, we present the results of field measurements/observations and experiments to examine the relationship between nutrient availability and J. effusus growth. In addition, we present and discuss results of experiments to study the potential beneficial effects of liming. Our findings show that the growth of J. effusus on moist or wet soils seems to be strongly determined by the Olsen-P concentration in the soil. The restoration of diverse, species-rich vegetation types on former agricultural lands with a noncalcareous sandy soil will in most cases not be possible within a reasonable time span without topsoil removal. Liming might be a valuable additional measure to enhance the quality of the soil after topsoil removal, and to prevent mobilization of P to groundwater or surface water. If removal of the topsoil is considered to create P limitation, it is important to study P concentrations at various depths to establish the amount of soil that has to be removed.
 
Article
Many herbaceous meadows are dominated by competitive non-native grasses and subject to ungulate herbivory, ecological processes that shift the proportional biomass of plant groups in the community. Predicting the outcome of restoration is complicated because herbivory and competition can interact. We examined the relationship between herbivory by native black-tailed deer and domestic sheep and dominance of non-native grasses in Garry oak meadows, one of North America's most endangered habitat types. A 3-year factorial experiment tested the effects of mowing and fencing on plant community biomass, categorized into eight groups by geographic origin (native/non-native), growth form (annual/perennial), and plant type (forb/grass). To test if the rarity of native plant groups was related to herbivory, we estimated ungulate foraging preferences for each plant group. Mowing and fencing treatments interacted for annual and perennial non-native grasses. Dominance was shifted from non-native to native grasses only when both mowing and fencing were applied. Fencing increased the total biomass, whereas mowing had no overall effect; however, fencing alone did not affect any individual plant group. Mowing shifted dominance from grasses to forbs, although both native and non-native forbs benefited from the increased light availability. We also noted that herbivore fecal pellet densities were greatest in the spring, which coincided with the peak season of their preferred plant group, native perennial forbs. Overall, applying both mowing and fencing was the most effective restoration treatment to increase native plant groups and biomass.
 
Top-cited authors
Karen Holl
  • University of California, Santa Cruz
James Aronson
  • Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive
Jim Arthur Harris
  • Cranfield University
James Aronson
  • Missouri Botanical Garden
David A Norton
  • University of Canterbury