Article

Integrating plant- and animal- based perspectives for more effective restoration of biodiversity

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

Ecological restoration of modified and degraded landscapes is an important challenge for the 21st century, with potential for major gains in the recovery of biodiversity. However, there is a general lack of agreement between plant- and animal- based approaches to restoration, both in theory and practice. Here, we review these approaches, identify limitations from failing to effectively integrate their different perspectives, and suggest ways to improve outcomes for biodiversity recovery in agricultural landscapes. We highlight the need to strengthen collaboration between plant and animal ecologists, to overcome disciplinary and cultural differences, and to achieve a more unified approach to restoration ecology. Explicit consideration of key ecosystem functions, the need to plan at multiple spatial and temporal scales, and the importance of plant–animal interactions can provide a bridge between plant- and animal- based methods. A systematic approach to restoration planning is critical to achieving effective biodiversity outcomes while meeting long- term social and economic needs.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... For fauna, restoration typically aims to counter the detrimental effects of habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation (Vickery & Arlettaz, 2012;McAlpine et al., 2016) by expanding the overall extent of suitable habitat, increasing habitat heterogeneity, adding elements to enhance connectivity, providing resources for specialist species and improving the quality of degraded habitats (Thomson et al., 2009;Kremen & Merenlender, 2018). Such landscape change is hypothesised to benefit biodiversity by increasing populations of extant species, rescuing declining populations and preventing local extinctions, attracting species 'back' into the landscape through recolonisation and enhancing ecosystem function through restoring interspecific interactions (e.g. ...
... Such landscape change is hypothesised to benefit biodiversity by increasing populations of extant species, rescuing declining populations and preventing local extinctions, attracting species 'back' into the landscape through recolonisation and enhancing ecosystem function through restoring interspecific interactions (e.g. pollination and seed dispersal ;Munro et al., 2007;Kormann et al., 2016;McAlpine et al., 2016). Socioecological benefits from landscape restoration are also important goals, including more sustainable food and timber production and improved human health and well-being (Fischer et al., 2021). ...
... able to assess the extent of breeding within landscapes. Measures of reproductive performance provide a more reliable measure of the benefits of restoration (e.g.Belder et al., 2020), but are extraordinarily difficult to achieve when dealing with multiple species across multiple landscapes.Time-lags in vegetation maturation and provision of resourcesfor biota have a critical influence on restoration programs(Mac Nally, 2008;McAlpine et al., 2016). Given that the trajectory of restoration extends over decades, protection and management of existing natural vegetation provides essential resources and a framework around which plantings will, in time, add further resources. ...
Article
Ecological restoration in rural environments is a global challenge for the 21st century. Restoration measures—such as agri‐environment activities, woodlots, natural regeneration and conservation plantings—collectively alter landscape structure with the aim of restoring conservation values that are characteristic of natural ecosystems. We tested the landscape‐scale benefits of restoration for woodland birds, species of conservation concern in southern Australia, by assessing the richness and composition of avian communities in rural landscapes along a gradient in habitat restoration, benchmarked against landscapes with comparable extent of native vegetation. We selected 43 landscapes (each 8 km2) in Victoria, Australia, representing: (a) a trajectory of decline in the extent of remnant native wooded vegetation (‘remnant’ landscapes), (b) a trajectory of gain in planted vegetation (‘revegetation’ landscapes) and (c) a similar gradient comprising a mix of remnants and planted vegetation (‘mixed’ landscapes). In each landscape, repeat surveys of birds were undertaken at 12 sites, stratified in relation to land cover. Species richness of all terrestrial and woodland birds showed similar positive responses to total wooded cover in each landscape type, but woodland birds had reduced richness in ‘revegetation’ relative to ‘remnant’ and ‘mixed’ landscapes. Across all landscapes, key factors influencing richness were the extent of wooded cover and proportion comprised of plantings, scattered trees in farmland and mean annual rainfall. The composition of woodland bird assemblages differed between ‘remnant’ and ‘revegetation’ landscapes with predictable differences associated with foraging traits. Synthesis and applications. Restoration plantings stimulate recolonisation of otherwise‐depleted landscapes, effectively reversing a decline in woodland birds. Key insights include: (a) benchmarking ‘revegetation’ against ‘remnant’ landscapes provides a valuable means to quantify restoration outcomes at the landscape scale; (b) time‐lags in vegetation maturation contribute to a trajectory of recovery that differs from a trajectory of decline, in both richness and composition of the avifauna; (c) scattered trees have a critical role for avifaunal conservation in farm landscapes; (d) restoration plantings are most effective in ‘mixed’ landscapes, where complementary resources from remnant and planted vegetation are juxtaposed; and (e) restoration plantings on individual farms contribute to landscape‐scale biodiversity gains while also having socio‐ecological and production benefits. Restoration plantings stimulate recolonisation of otherwise‐depleted landscapes, effectively reversing a decline in woodland birds. Key insights include: (a) benchmarking ‘revegetation’ against ‘remnant’ landscapes provides a valuable means to quantify restoration outcomes at the landscape scale; (b) time‐lags in vegetation maturation contribute to a trajectory of recovery that differs from a trajectory of decline, in both richness and composition of the avifauna; (c) scattered trees have a critical role for avifaunal conservation in farm landscapes; (d) restoration plantings are most effective in ‘mixed’ landscapes, where complementary resources from remnant and planted vegetation are juxtaposed; and (e) restoration plantings on individual farms contribute to landscape‐scale biodiversity gains while also having socio‐ecological and production benefits.
... One common metric used to assess the success of this substantial global investment is the recovery of biodiversity (9,10). While many studies report positive effects of restoration on biodiversity, these studies typically focus either on the response of plant or animal communities, but rarely both (5,(11)(12)(13). This focus on component pieces of ecosystems makes it difficult to identify ecosystem-wide responses of biodiversity to restoration at multiple trophic levels (14)(15)(16). ...
... Additionally, variables describing the quantity or quality of animal habitat, including landscape configuration (30)(31)(32) or structural heterogeneity (26,33,34), commonly exhibit stronger correlations with animal biodiversity. Management practices focused on restoring plant communities may therefore be insufficient to also restore animal communities (35,36) and risk falling short of the ultimate goal of entire-ecosystem restoration (13,(37)(38)(39)(40). Critical tests of the Field of Dreams hypothesis are therefore needed to improve both restoration science and our Significance "If you build it, they will come" is a commonly accepted principle of restoration ecology (the Field of Dreams hypothesis). ...
... understanding of how multitrophic interactions and disturbance jointly structure biodiversity (3,13,36,41). ...
Article
Full-text available
A primary goal of ecological restoration is to increase biodiversity in degraded ecosystems. However, the success of restoration ecology is often assessed by measuring the response of a single functional group or trophic level to restoration, without considering how restoration affects multitrophic interactions that shape biodiversity. An ecosystem-wide approach to restoration is therefore necessary to understand whether animal responses to restoration, such as changes in biodiversity, are facilitated by changes in plant communities (plant-driven effects) or disturbance and succession resulting from restoration activities (management-driven effects). Furthermore, most restoration ecology studies focus on how restoration alters taxonomic diversity, while less attention is paid to the response of functional and phylogenetic diversity in restored ecosystems. Here, we compared the strength of plant-driven and management-driven effects of restoration on four animal communities (ground beetles, dung beetles, snakes, and small mammals) in a chronosequence of restored tallgrass prairie, where sites varied in management history (prescribed fire and bison reintroduction). Our analyses indicate that management-driven effects on animal communities were six-times stronger than effects mediated through changes in plant biodiversity. Additionally, we demonstrate that restoration can simultaneously have positive and negative effects on biodiversity through different pathways, which may help reconcile variation in restoration outcomes. Furthermore, animal taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity responded differently to restoration, suggesting that restoration plans might benefit from considering multiple dimensions of animal biodiversity. We conclude that metrics of plant diversity alone may not be adequate to assess the success of restoration in reassembling functional ecosystems.
... Projects are ideally accompanied by a scientific evaluation of the measures implemented (Ruiz-Jaen and Aide, 2005;. Regarding evaluation criteria, plant species are disproportionately prioritized in ecological restoration (Ruiz-Jaen and Aide, 2005;McAlpine et al., 2016). Animal species, on the other hand, are often assumed to recolonize restored sites spontaneously, mainly limited by the degree of vegetation restoration (Cristescu et al., 2013;Baur, 2014). ...
... Furthermore, the colonization of dispersal-limited animal species is often hampered by a high degree of habitat isolation, particularly in intensively used agricultural landscapes (Baur, 2014;Poniatowski et al., 2016). Restoration projects and the evaluation of their success should therefore consider not only plant but also animal diversity (Jones and Davidson, 2016;McAlpine et al., 2016). Auchenorrhyncha (hereinafter termed 'leafhoppers') are a very diverse and abundant group of primary consumers within temperate grassland ecosystems . ...
Article
Despite great efforts in European nature conservation, semi-natural habitats such as calcareous grasslands are still suffering considerable declines due to abandonment. Shrub cutting and subsequent grazing or mowing are effective restoration measures to counteract the adverse effects of management cessation. Here, for the first time, we used leafhoppers (Auchenorrhyncha) as bioindicators to assess the conservation value of restored calcareous grasslands. We compared environmental conditions and leafhopper assemblages of 21 restored grasslands and 21 regularly managed sites (control) within the largest area of calcareous grasslands in the northern part of Germany. Furthermore, we applied Generalised Linear Mixed-effects Models (GLMM) to assess the effects of environmental parameters on species richness of leafhoppers within the restored grasslands. After a period of three to eight years, the restoration measures had led to species-rich leafhopper assemblages, including both habitat specialists and threatened species. However, we still found clear differences in leafhopper composition compared to the control. Within the restored grasslands, a pronounced field layer and an increased number of host plants positively affected species richness. In conclusion, the restored grasslands form open fringe-like habitat structures that clearly enhance the conservation value of calcareous grasslands by (i) harbouring numerous exclusive (indicator) species leading to a higher leafhopper diversity at the habitat level and (ii) by providing habitats for several habitat specialists which occurred only rarely on control grasslands. In order to maintain or even increase the biodiversity of calcareous grasslands, we recommend a combination of traditional grazing and small-scale shrub cutting.
... They, hence, conclude that both tree planting and applied nucleation are likely to fail in highly defaunated sites where animal-dispersed trees are deprived of dispersal services (Dirzo et al., 2014). Or, alternatively, in areas with high levels of seed predation and/or herbivory where dispersed propagules are unlikely to become established (McAlpine et al., 2016). Thus, this long-term study reinforces the notion that forest managers should consider both the environmental conditions determining tree recruitment as well as the biological processes that amplify plant fertilization and recruitment dynamics, such as seed dispersal or effective pollination (Farwig & Berens, 2012;Potts et al., 2016). ...
... The easy implementation of the presented technique makes it a suitable candidate to overcome seed dispersal limitation issues in small-scale restoration programs. The approach can be of special interest in highly disturbed landscapes where it can take advantage of the generalist frugivores that typically remain in such landscapes (McAlpine et al., 2016). ...
... Long-term monitoring is invaluable (Lindenmayer et al. 2012). Unfortunately, where long-term fauna data have been collected, it is sometimes not accompanied by quantitative vegetation monitoring, making interpretation difficult (McAlpine et al. 2016). In these cases, using remote sensing tools such as fractional cover (FC) can provide a coarse measure of vegetation cover change (Pettorelli et al. 2014). ...
... From a faunal perspective, habitat quality has not necessarily improved in (Lawley et al. 2016;Rocchini et al. 2016). Either way, both plants and animals need to be incorporated into restoration planning and monitoring (McAlpine et al. 2016). In this study, we constrained the use of FC to the level of our fauna survey records; however, it would be valuable to assess the vegetation change since destocking across the whole property, using satellite imagery from decades before and after destocking (Xie et al. 2019). ...
Article
With one million species threatened with extinction and more than a third of terrestrial Earth now devoted to crop or livestock production, many conservation organisations are acquiring land, destocking and converting them to national parks or conservation reserves. When pastoral properties are acquired, destocking is often the first management action. Species responses to destocking are varied and largely associated with changes in ground vegetation complexity. However, studies over short timeframes may fail to capture the often slow and episodic recovery post‐destocking, particularly in arid and semi‐arid ecosystems. In this study, we examined the response of small mammals and reptiles between 6 and 24 years since destocking in mallee (Eucalytpus sp.) and Casuarina vegetation communities in semi‐arid Australia. As casuarina sites were closer to water than mallee, they were subject to higher domestic livestock grazing intensity, and higher grazing pressure from invasive goats and native kangaroos after livestock were removed. We related faunal abundance and diversity to time‐since‐destocking, fractional cover, rainfall and temperature and described compositional dynamics. We found that the vegetation types had distinct fauna communities and unique recovery trajectories. In mallee, reptile abundance and diversity increased with time‐since‐destocking but did not change in casuarina. Small mammal response to time‐since‐destocking was non‐linear and strongly influenced by rainfall. Overall, the mallee community showed signs of recovery, but recovery was less evident in the more degraded casuarina. We highlight that destocking ex‐pastoral properties is rarely a restoration ‘quick‐fix’ and land managers must deal with a complex legacy of impacts, when converting pastoral land to conservation reserves.
... These shortfalls are compounded when there is an absence of pre-invasion baseline information on ecological communities and a lack of understanding of invader impact. Better integration between plant and animal focussed research is required to maximise the potential for long-term, cost-effective restoration of functional ecosystems for diverse components of biodiversity (McAlpine et al., 2016). ...
... Typically, the response of reptiles to habitat change, and especially to changes in plant cover, depends on life history traits and foraging and thermoregulatory behaviour of each species. For example, in spinifex (Triodia sp.) grasslands that dominate much of the Australian arid zone, different lizard species are associated with different levels of cover, often related to successional stages post-fire (Masters 1996;Schlesinger 1997;Dickman et al., 1999;Letnic et al., 2004;Daly et al., 2008). In contrast to what might be expected where there is progressive divergence in the structure and composition of ground cover, we did not detect significant changes in composition of reptile assemblages between treated and control plots. ...
Article
Full-text available
Introduced grasses are a major threat to dryland ecosystems world-wide because of their ability to transform plant communities and change fire regimes. These structural and functional shifts are often assumed to impact wildlife but this has rarely been measured directly. Likewise, evaluation of weed removal programs rarely considers benefits to fauna, thereby limiting information that could inform management decisions. We used an experimental approach to test the impacts of removing invasive buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris), a globally significant invader of dryland systems, on reptiles, a prominent component of the Australian desert fauna. A combination of mechanical and herbicide treatment was applied to replicate plots in areas that had been invaded for at least two decades and changes to ground cover and plant and reptile assemblages were monitored over six years and compared to still-invaded control plots. Following treatment, native plants re-established without the need for reseeding or planting, especially during a period of high rainfall, when positive effects on reptiles also became apparent. The abundance and species richness of reptiles increased at all plots during the mesic period, but less so in control plots, and remained higher at treated plots thereafter, although this was only significant at some times. Post-treatment 27 of 36 species were captured more frequently in treated plots and only four species, all with very low captures, were captured more often in invaded control plots. This consistent trend among species suggests negative impacts of buffel grass on reptiles are likely caused by broad factors such as reduced prey or habitat diversity. Together with concurrent research at the same sites, our results provide experimental evidence that removing buffel grass from heavily invaded areas, even at small scales, benefits a variety of native flora and fauna. Until landscape-scale options are available, restoration of smaller areas within buffel-invaded landscapes can help to preserve native seed banks and adult plants, reduce fire impacts, and provide patches of favourable habitat for fauna. The creation of ‘islands’ of restored native vegetation deserves further consideration as an effective intervention that could help to achieve short and long-term conservation goals in grass-invaded dryland ecosystems.
... Herbivorous arthropods, such as many moths and butterflies, are strongly associated with the structure and composition of vegetation of the lower strata. Thus, their relative occurrence may indicate the degree to which wider ecological function, such as restoration of plant-animal interactions, has been achieved (Waltz & Covington 2004;Longcore 2003;McAlpine et al. 2016). ...
... Restoration in rural environments typically occurs as a series of actions at small scales, using individual sites or patches, such as replanting linear strips or patches of vegetation on farms. From a conservation perspective, particularly for animal species and communities, the goal must be to enhance conservation benefits at the landscape scale (Hobbs & Norton 1996;McAlpine et al. 2016). A landscape perspective is valuable for several reasons. ...
Article
Restoration of degraded ecosystems is a global issue, particularly in rural regions where excessive loss of natural vegetation has occurred. We investigated, at both landscape and patch scales, the benefits to butterfly communities of restoration by revegetation (planting trees and shrubs), typical of many rural landscapes in south-eastern Australia. We surveyed 8 pairs of landscapes (200 ha each) dominated either by remnant or restored woody vegetation, along a gradient of wooded cover. In total, 1,683 individuals of 11 butterfly species were recorded by transect counts, with the fauna dominated by four generalist species. At the landscape scale, there were similar patterns of occurrence of butterflies in remnant and restored landscapes: species richness was not related to the gradient in wooded cover, but overall abundance of butterflies increased with wooded cover. At the patch scale there was a similar richness of butterflies in revegetation and remnants (greater than in pasture), with abundance greater in remnants. Individual species showed distinctive responses to patch types (i.e. remnants, revegetation, scattered trees, pasture). In all patch types, the ground layer was dominated by exotic plants and most observations (78%) of butterflies taking nectar were from exotics. Revegetation in farmland created new wooded habitat, at least for common butterfly species, despite the study being undertaken during severe drought. Benefits of revegetation will be enhanced by actions at both the landscape scale (extent, connectivity of habitat), and patch scale (habitat quality) through promoting native ground-layer species favored for adult foraging and as larval host plants. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... Among the ecosystem processes that are relevant to ecological restoration, the study of plant-animal interactions at the local scale (e.g. seed predation, herbivory and pollination) allows us to assess whether we are reaching the aim of recovering fully functional ecosystem, as desired (Reis, Zambonim and Nakazone, 1998;Kollmann et al., 2016;McAlpine et al., 2016;Catterall, 2018). Among the plant-animal interactions, seeds removal by biotic agents is one of the processes that has been studied in ecological restoration (Wijdeven and Kuzee, 2001;Ssekuubwa et al., 2018;Linabury, Turley and Brudvig, 2019), as an approach for the understanding of community assembly, driving restoration ecology to a more predictive science (Brudvig et al., 2017). ...
... Among the plant-animal interactions, seeds removal by biotic agents is one of the processes that has been studied in ecological restoration (Wijdeven and Kuzee, 2001;Ssekuubwa et al., 2018;Linabury, Turley and Brudvig, 2019), as an approach for the understanding of community assembly, driving restoration ecology to a more predictive science (Brudvig et al., 2017). Nevertheless, so far many knowledge gaps still persist, due to the lack of integration of plant-animal interaction approaches in ecosystem restoration processes (McAlpine et al., 2016). Questions like how and when do seed consumers take effect during restoration; how much the seed consumers affect, positively or negatively, the ecosystems in restoration; or if there is any recognizable pattern in the plant-animal relationships; remain unanswered (Catterall, 2018;Linabury, Turley and Brudvig, 2019). ...
Article
Seed removal has been considered an important ecological filter in plant community assembly during the first years of restoration. However, little is known about the influence of the restored ecosystems attributes on seed consumption patterns by predators and, consequently, on the composition and structure of the regenerating community. We tested whether seed removal differs between natural and restored ecosystems and whether it depends on the seed consuming agent (insects, rodents and birds). We evaluated seed removal in three forest restoration treatments (two active and one passive) established over 20 years ago. We used a fragment of old-growth native seasonal semideciduous tropical forest close to the experimental area, as a reference ecosystem. We installed exclusion stations for different consumer groups (insects, rodents and birds) of seeds belonging to four tree species from different successional groups and dispersal syndromes (Tabernaemontana hystrix Steud, Schinus terebinthifolius Raddi, Pterogyne nitens Tul and Anadenanthera colubrina var. cebil (Griseb.) Altschul. Insects were the main agent removing seeds from the species tested as a whole, regardless of the restoration treatment. Seed removal proportions were generally low and differed between active and passive restoration treatments, depending on the tree species. However, they were similar to the native forest, regardless of the restoration treatment. We found an effect of the interaction of restoration treatments and consuming agents only for one of the zoochoric species tested (Tabernaemontana hystrix). Seed removal no longer seems to represent a biotic filter limiting plant recruitment for T. hystrix, S. terebinthifolius, P. nitens and A. colubrina recruitment in the restoration treatments, regardless of the restoration technique.
... However, there are still few examples of landscapes being successfully returned to functional native ecosystems following mining (Cross et al. 2020a;Carlucci et al. 2020). Notably, despite ecosystem recovery being reliant upon the reassembly of trophic interactions between animals and other components of the ecosystem (Ruiz-Jaen & Mitchell Aide 2005;Fraser et al. 2015;McAlpine et al. 2016), fauna remain broadly overlooked in restoration planning and monitoring (Cross et al. 2019). Our understanding of how fauna communities reassemble and behave in rehabilitated or restored areas in comparison with reference ecosystems remains limited for many taxonomic groups (Cross et al. 2019(Cross et al. , 2020a. ...
... area, and such guidance would greatly assist industry in setting appropriate goals for post-mining restoration and establishing completion criteria (Block et al. 2001;Lindell 2008;Majer 2009;McAlpine et al. 2016). For example, movement ecology of many species is predicated upon landscape-level changes in habitat (e.g., Allen & Singh 2016;Tarszisz et al. 2018;Cross et al. 2020b,c) Tomlinson et al. 2020;Saleeba et al. 2020), this approach is also yet to be widely incorporated into EIA processes, restoration and closure planning, or other mitigation measures (Bradley et al. 2020). ...
Article
Full-text available
Mineral extraction activities are intensely disruptive to ecosystems and their associated fauna. Few countries globally have comprehensive legislation surrounding mine site restoration, but within Australia, restoration of discontinued mine sites is a legislative requirement. However, substantial ambiguity regarding the optimal techniques for restoring biodiverse and functional fauna assemblages remains, and monitoring activities typically focus on vegetation communities despite functioning ecosystems being reliant on key trophic interactions involving fauna. When fauna are considered, monitoring efforts typically yield baseline surveys of species richness and the presence or absence of conservation-significant taxa. Even where complete ecosystem recovery is not the goal of post-mining ecological recovery, we argue that there is a critical need for a life-of-mine approach to fauna monitoring underpinned by greater dialogue between researchers, environmental regulators, and the mining industry. Environmental Impact Assessments should include requirements for the consideration of all potential impacts of mining on the structure, behaviour and ecological roles of fauna communities, restoration practices must facilitate the return of functional, resilient, and biodiverse fauna communities to restored post-mining landscapes, and the scope of monitoring practices should be broadened to a holistic examination of fauna communities. Recognising, quantifying, and monitoring the impacts of mining activities and subsequent rehabilitation or restoration on fauna is vital to understanding how anthropogenic disturbances affect natural ecosystems, and in assisting in the successful recovery of ecosystem functionality to areas that have been damaged, degraded, or destroyed. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... They, hence, conclude that both tree planting and applied nucleation are likely to fail in highly defaunated sites where animal-dispersed trees are deprived of dispersal services (Dirzo et al., 2014). Or, alternatively, in areas with high levels of seed predation and/or herbivory where dispersed propagules are unlikely to become established (McAlpine et al., 2016). Thus, this long-term study reinforces the notion that forest managers should consider both the environmental conditions determining tree recruitment as well as the biological processes that amplify plant fertilization and recruitment dynamics, such as seed dispersal or effective pollination (Farwig & Berens, 2012;Potts et al., 2016). ...
... The easy implementation of the presented technique makes it a suitable candidate to overcome seed dispersal limitation issues in small-scale restoration programs. The approach can be of special interest in highly disturbed landscapes where it can take advantage of the generalist frugivores that typically remain in such landscapes (McAlpine et al., 2016). ...
... Ecosystem restoration often focuses on restoring landscapes to historic conditions [1], or to dynamic, realistic sites that provide specific, desirable characteristics and ecosystem services [2]. For heavily disturbed areas, restoration to a historic state may be impossible, and land managers often focus on alternate, more realistic goals for restoration. ...
... For heavily disturbed areas, restoration to a historic state may be impossible, and land managers often focus on alternate, more realistic goals for restoration. These goals can include increasing plant species richness, diversity, native cover [1,3,4], plant community structure and species composition [4][5][6], and soil health [7]. For both restoration of reclaimed mine land and tallgrass prairie restoration in the Midwest, achieving a historic state is often impossible, so alternate goals are typically the focus. ...
Article
Full-text available
After strip mining, soils typically suffer from compaction, low nutrient availability, loss of soil organic carbon, and a compromised soil microbial community. Prairie restorations can improve ecosystem services on former agricultural lands, but prairie restorations on mine lands are relatively under-studied. This study investigated the impact of prairie restoration on mine lands, focusing on the plant community and soil properties. In southeast Ohio, 305 ha within a ~2000 ha area of former mine land was converted to native prairie through herbicide and planting between 1999–2016. Soil and vegetation sampling occurred from 2016–2018. Plant community composition shifted with prairie age, with highest native cover in the oldest prairie areas. Prairie plants were more abundant in older prairies. The oldest prairies had significantly more soil fungal biomass and higher soil microbial biomass. However, many soil properties (e.g., soil nutrients, β-glucosoidase activity, and soil organic carbon), as well as plant species diversity and richness trended higher in prairies, but were not significantly different from baseline cool-season grasslands. Overall, restoration with prairie plant communities slowly shifted soil properties, but mining disturbance was still the most significant driver in controlling soil properties. Prairie restoration on reclaimed mine land was effective in establishing a native plant community, with the associated ecosystem benefits.
... In order to reveal if restoration targets are met, restoration actions require evaluations of their success, which is overall a key subject for the development of restoration ecology (Suding 2011). Nevertheless, how to evaluate restoration success is highly debatable (see e.g., Hobbs et al. 2009;McAlpine et al. 2016). The traditional use of past and present ecosystems as targets in restoration projects can be inappropriate due to rapid and uncertain environmental change (Corlett 2016). ...
... It has been suggested that more effective outcomes of restoration for biodiversity should be achieved via integrated plant-animal (i.e., targeting several taxa) restoration approaches (McAlpine et al. 2016), and when whole landscapes are being restored (e.g., rewilding, Corlett 2016). Both approaches require comparisons across separate ecological communities while evaluating restoration success, either within the same ecosystem (across taxa comparisons) or within the same landscape (across habitat comparison of some representative taxa), respectively. ...
Article
Full-text available
When restoring habitat for biodiversity, the most effective outcome will be achieved by restoration projects which target several organism groups or ecosystem types. Such integrated approaches require direct comparisons among different ecological communities while evaluating success of restoration. The Community Completeness Index (CCI) is a recently developed metric that allows such comparisons by accounting for both present and absent but otherwise suitable taxa. We empirically evaluated the applicability of CCI for assessing the outcome of ecological restoration. We analyzed how species richness and the completeness of ecological communities recover after restoration, for different ecological groups and ecosystem types, and how it develops over time after restoration. Analyses were performed on 18 datasets with per site presence-absence data from Northern Europe. Each dataset represented one of the three habitat types (mire, forest, grassland) and different ecological groups (plants, flying insects, epigeic invertebrates). Datasets contained pristine, degraded and restored sites. We calculated the dark diversity and subsequently CCI based on species co-occurrences. Our multiple-study analyses revealed that CCI of grassland plant communities increased faster after restoration than invertebrate communities or plant communities in forests and mires. In addition, flying insect communities demonstrated significantly highest CCI in pristine mires. Some results were significant only for richness but not for CCI indicating species pool effect. Finally, completeness and species richness of restored communities increased with time since restoration. As such, our study demonstrated that CCI is a useful tool in evaluating restoration success across different organism groups and ecosystem types.
... Therefore, planning and monitoring often focus on population and community metrics (e.g., biomass and diversity), with the utilization of a reference site for comparison since historical data are typically limited. Restoration studies also tend to be species-focused, with a heavy bias toward plants (McAlpine et al., 2016), and assuming organisms adhere to the Field of Dreams philosophy (i.e., "if we build it, they will come"; Palmer et al., 1997;Ruiz-Jaen and Aide, 2005). Yet, less is known about how far this extends in the food web. ...
... The search produced 62 papers that addressed trophic structure in response to restoration, compared to the 683 plant-focused studies determined by McAlpine et al. (2016) (Fig. 1). The number of trophic-focused restoration studies has increased over time (Fig. 2). ...
Article
Restoration ecologists have long-called for more holistic approaches to ecosystem restoration and tools for monitoring restoration success. There has been an increased number of restoration projects assessing ecosystem-scale processes, such as nutrient cycling and productivity. However, an examination of trophic interactions (e.g., trophic position, linkages, and diversity) as a tool for assessing restoration success is limited and can provide a more complete depiction of restoration success when coupled with traditional community metrics. Here, the impact of habitat restoration on trophic recovery was assessed through a targeted literature review, analyzing how trophic structure responds to habitat restoration over time, compared to control sites, and viewed across ecosystems. Overall, trophic structure recovers following restoration but may require several years. Comparing systems, restoration of trophic structure in terrestrial environments has received less attention (19%) as compared to freshwater (31%) and coastal (50%) systems. Community metrics and stable isotopes were the most common methods for assessing trophic interactions and will likely continue to be valuable tools when assessing how restoration impacts ecosystems. In terms of best practices to achieve and quantify trophic restoration success, future studies should increase frequency and duration of pre- and post-restoration monitoring, establish consistency in selecting control sites, and incorporate habitat structural elements compatible with restoration to attract higher trophic level species. The inclusion of trophic interactions in restoration projects generates a more comprehensive understanding of trophic structure and ecosystem function and offers insights to develop more effective management strategies for achieving long-term restoration success.
... A key knowledge gap in restoring pollination is accurately measuring pollination function. Restoring pollination necessitates the explicit consideration of both plants and animals, yet previous restoration and research efforts have typically focused on one group [22,23]. Much of the literature on pollination restoration measures floral abundance and/or diversity [24] or pollinator abundance and/or diversity [25][26][27][28][29]. Assessing the recovery of pollinators and plants can be a useful first proxy for determining the effects of restoration on pollination. ...
... Seed mixes of plant species are commonly used to restore diverse plant communities in ecological restoration, with the assumption that higher taxa, including pollinators, will colonize on their own [22,46]. While practitioners often prioritize creating high diversity plant, floral display size (e.g. ...
Article
Full-text available
Ecological restoration is increasingly implemented to reverse habitat loss and concomitant declines in biological diversity. Typically, restoration success is evaluated by measuring the abundance and/or diversity of a single taxon. However, for a restoration to be successful and persistent, critical ecosystem functions such as animal-mediated pollination must be maintained. In this review, we focus on three aspects of pollination within ecological restorations. First, we address the need to measure pollination directly in restored habitats. Proxies such as pollinator abundance and richness do not always accurately assess pollination function. Pollen supplementation experiments, pollen deposition studies, and pollen transport networks are more robust methods for assessing pollination function within restorations. Second, we highlight how local-scale management and landscape-level factors may influence pollination within restorations. Local-scale management actions such as prescribed fire and removal of non-native species can have large impacts on pollinator communities and ultimately on pollination services. In addition, landscape context including proximity and connectivity to natural habitats may be an important factor for land managers and conservation practitioners to consider to maximize restoration success. Third, as climate change is predicted to be a primary driver of future loss in biodiversity, we discuss the potential effects climate change may have on animal-mediated pollination within restorations. An increased mechanistic understanding of how climate change affects pollination and incorporation of climate change predictions will help practitioners design stable, functioning restorations into the future.
... Where animals can exploit natural shade refuge and cope through thermoregulatory mechanisms, manual interventions are less likely to be implemented when start-work triggers are based on flying-fox behaviour. Restoring mid-storey and understorey vegetation also has broader benefits for local biodiversity (McAlpine et al. 2016). For flying-foxes, this could increase the carrying capacity of a camp or spread animals over a larger area, which could minimise the extent of canopy defoliation from flying-fox roosting (Pallin 2000). ...
Article
Full-text available
Heat stress events in Australian flying-fox camps have resulted in significant numbers of flying-fox deaths. The frequency and intensity of such events have increased in recent decades, attributed to anthropogenic climate change. Evidence-based interventions are required to address this growing threat. Responders currently use different combinations of a range of intervention methods. We undertook a systematic review of heat stress interventions, which we classified as either 'camp-scale' or 'individual-scale'. Camp-scale interventions included manual and automated misting of roost vegetation, whereas individual-scale interventions included spraying individual animals or removing them for intensive cooling and rehydration procedures. Our study showed that to date, evaluation of the efficacy of heat stress interventions has been largely anecdotal rather than empirical. This highlights the need for dedicated rigorous studies to evaluate the effectiveness of all the intervention methods described here. It will be especially important to understand the relationship between camp temperature and humidity levels and their influence on flying-foxes' ability to regulate their body temperature, because high relative humidity reduces the ability of mammals to cool themselves using evaporative heat loss. The development of biophysiological measures such as temperature and humidity indices for different flying-fox species would enable meaningful interpretations of intervention trials under controlled conditions.
... Herzberger et al. (2015) suggested the net effects of microbial communities on plants to be similar in restoration and remnant grasslands after 20 y, while Jangid et al. (2010) found that the microbial community was not fully restored after 30 y. Failure of certain plant species to establish may be due to lack of necessary mutualist symbionts (Larson and Siemann 1998;Grman et al. 2020) as indicated by this lengthy recovery process. Management plans that include restoration of these interactions essential to species establishment and persistence may bring us closer to the goal of selfsustainable grassland ecosystems (McAlpine et al. 2016;Heinen et al. 2020). ...
Article
With global efforts to restore grassland ecosystems, researchers and land management practitioners are working to reconstruct habitat that will persist and withstand stresses associated with climate change. Part of these efforts involve movement of plant material potentially adapted to future climate conditions from native habitat or seed production locations to a new restoration site. Restoration practice often follows this plant-centered, top-down approach. However, we suggest that restoration of belowground interactions, namely between plants and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi or rhizobia, is important for restoring resilient grasslands. In this synthesis we highlight these interactions and offer insight into how their restoration might be included in current grassland restoration practice. Ultimately, restoration of belowground interactions may contribute to grassland habitat that can withstand and respond to future climate uncertainties.
... This is interpreted as a difference in the view of the restoration strategy between animals and plants. McAlpine et al (2016) argued that the restoration of animals and plants differed in goals, strategies, and spatiotemporal scales and that more effective restoration could be achieved by integrating the restoration strategies of animals and plants. ...
Article
Full-text available
Continuous development due to human activities has extinctionized many floral and faunal species on earth and seriously threatened the ecosystem. Many countries are working hard to protect and restore endangered species by conducting a range of studies. This study conducted text mining and sentiment analysis based on the results of the previous studies on endangered species to present practical protection and conservation methods through identifying the research trend of endangered species in South Korea. This study found 451 peer-reviewed papers and abstracts. One hundred eight-seven species were studied, and the number of publications exponentially increased from the 1980s to the 2010s. The largest number of studies was conducted in the field of ecology (203 publications), and majority of studies examined plants (223 publications). “Taxa”, “plant”, “study”, and “Korea” appeared the most regardless of weighting factors. It was found that words associated with plant identification, habitat area, and environmental characteristics, those affecting the survival of species and those related to conservation policies formed a network relationship. The results of this study showed that researchers used positive words more than negative words from the 1990s to the 2010s, but the use of positive words decreased over time. The results implied that the restoration of endangered species was hard socially and scientifically. Understanding the research trend on endangered species in South Korea will be helpful in developing and proposing important directions for endangered species restoration research planned at the national level. We hope that various efforts are given to improve endangered species restoration research techniques and raise social awareness for producing practical achievements.
... com 22 plant populations, including their regeneration following eventual disturbances during the restoration process (Howe, 2014). Therefore, in places where seed dispersal is carried out predominantly by animals, a challenge to restoration practitioners is to attract and maintain seed dispersers in the restoration area to recover their mutualistic interactions with plants (McAlpine et al., 2016). In tropical forests, where most plants depend on animals for seed dispersal (Jordano, 2000;Almeida-Neto et al., 2008), the effort to restore seed dispersal interactions should focus predominantly on birds and mammals that form the bulk of seed dispersal agents in tropical forests (Howe, 2014(Howe, , 2016. ...
Chapter
This book contains 23 chapters divided into seven parts. Part I reviews the key hypotheses in invasion ecology that invoke biotic interactions to explain aspects of plant invasion dynamics; and reviews models, theories and hypotheses on how invasion performance and impact of introduced species in recipient ecosystems can be conjectured according to biotic interactions between native and non-native species. Part II deals with positive and negative interactions in the soil. Part III discusses mutualistic interactions that promote plant invasions. Part IV describes antagonistic interactions that hinder plant invasions, while part V presents the consequences of plant invasions for biotic interactions among native species. In part VI, novel techniques and experimental approaches in the study of plant invasions are shown. In the last part, biotic interactions and the management of ecosystems invaded by non-native plants are discussed.
... Recently, however, there has been a growing appreciation of the importance of considering ecosystem function (Kollmann et al., 2016), ecosystem complexity (Peipoch et al., 2015), and trophic interactions as components in ecological restoration projects (Fraser et al., 2015). Indeed, restoration projects can be more effective when the restoration of plant and wildlife species is considered simultaneously, rather than as separate components (Jones and Davidson, 2016;McAlpine et al., 2016). Here, we consider the colonization and role of terrestrial mammals in river restoration following large dam removal. ...
Article
Full-text available
Terrestrial wildlife communities are often overlooked as components of ecosystem restoration following dam removal. However, a diverse mammalian fauna colonizes habitat on dewatered reservoirs and may influence restoration processes. We studied mammalian colonization and ungulate herbivory from 2014 to 2018 following the removal of two large dams on the Elwha River in Washington, USA. Specifically, we examined (1) small mammal colonization and (2) Roosevelt elk (Cervus elaphus roosevelti) and Columbian black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) distribution and browsing pressure in association with revegetation efforts. We live-trapped small mammals on two former reservoir beds and monitored deer and elk use by conducting pellet group counts and quantifying ungulate herbivory at plots throughout the former reservoir beds and an adjacent reference site. We found that the proportion of deciduous riparian species on plots best predicted occupancy for mice, shrews, and voles. Small mammal species diversity was best explained by the proportion of logs and conifers on study plots. Roosevelt elk presence and browsing intensity on willows (Salix spp.) and black cottonwood (Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa) varied both spatially and temporally, affecting the stature and potentially the growth trajectories of these species. Early seral restoration of these terrestrial habitats has included the presence of a diversity of granivores, insectivores, and herbivores, with elk demonstrating the strongest influence over portions of the study area. Small mammal colonization complements revegetation succession and demonstrates restoration of ecological processes, while large ungulates may be playing a more substantial role in shaping revegetation.
... In many tropical research projects, active ecosystem restoration, i.e., the process of land management by planting vegetation, weeding, burning, and thinning (Benayas et al. 2008), is the most common method to promote habitat enrichment (Brancalion et al. 2019), a technique based solely on plant taxonomic richness or on a single ecosystem function (Jones et al. 2018).Furthermore, active restoration could present some drawbacks related to high-cost (Birch et al. 2010), low-effectiveness (Crouzeilles et al. 2017), less carbon storage (Lewis et al. 2019), and overlooking the frugivore role in this process (e.g., with a wide choice of faster growth nonzoochorous native plant (Brancalion et al. 2018)). In doing so, the ecological interactions, an essential component of biodiversity, is neglected (Valiente-Banuet et al. 2015;McAlpine et al. 2016). Employing fauna on ecological restoration projects could rebuild interactions among species. ...
Article
Full-text available
Anthropocentric defaunation affects critical ecological processes, such as seed dispersal, putting ecosystems and biomes at risk, and leading to habitat impoverishment. Diverse restoration techniques could reverse the process of habitat impoverishment. However, in most of the restoration efforts, only vegetation cover is targeted. Fauna and flora are treated as isolated components, neglecting a key component of ecosystems' functioning, the ecological interactions. We tested whether the resilient frugivorous generalist fauna can improve habitat quality by dispersing native plant species through the use of fruit feeders as in a semideciduous seasonal urban forest fragment. A total of 32 sampling points was selected at a heavily degraded 251-ha urban forest fragment, with feeders installed at two heights monitored by camera-traps. Variable quantities of native fruits of 27 zoochorous species were offered alternately in the feeders. Based on more than 36,000 h of video records, Turdus leucomelas (Class Aves), Sapajus nigritus (Class Mammalia), and Salvator merianae (Class Reptilia) were recorded ingesting the highest fruit species richness. Didelphis albiventris (Class Mammalia) was the most frequent visitor but consumed only pulp in most of the visits. The frugivorous birds were recorded at a high visitation rate and consumed a wider variety of fruits. Our study opens a new avenue to combine the traditional approach of ecosystems recovery and ecological interactions restauration in an urban forest fragment. Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s11252-020-01080-5.
... In many tropical research projects, active ecosystem restoration, i.e., the process of land management by planting vegetation, weeding, burning, and thinning (Benayas et al. 2008), is the most common method to promote habitat enrichment (Brancalion et al. 2019), a technique based solely on plant taxonomic richness or on a single ecosystem function (Jones et al. 2018).Furthermore, active restoration could present some drawbacks related to high-cost (Birch et al. 2010), low-effectiveness (Crouzeilles et al. 2017), less carbon storage (Lewis et al. 2019), and overlooking the frugivore role in this process (e.g., with a wide choice of faster growth nonzoochorous native plant (Brancalion et al. 2018)). In doing so, the ecological interactions, an essential component of biodiversity, is neglected (Valiente-Banuet et al. 2015;McAlpine et al. 2016). Employing fauna on ecological restoration projects could rebuild interactions among species. ...
Article
Full-text available
1. Dispersal limitation severely impairs the trajectory of restoration, mainly due to the lack of seed vectors bringing seeds from nearby habitats; a role played by many frugivorous vertebrates that can be absent or reduced in restored or degraded sites. 2. Here we propose a new technique named Induced Seed Dispersal, that amplifies the role that many generalist frugivores have in seed dispersal. It consists in the offering of seeds embedded in the pulp of commercial fruits or whole native fleshy fruits in feeders to generalist frugivores, which ingest the seeds and defecate them elsewhere. We set feeders in a restored site and monitored the visiting pattern of these frugivores with cameras‐traps. We also set seed traps to retrieve seeds dispersed by frugivores and offered around 1500 seeds of Cecropia hololeuca (Urticaceae) per week for one year. 3. We recorded at least 24 generalist frugivore species of terrestrial mammals, bats, and birds, which ingested/removed the seeds/fruits from the feeders. Seeds of C. hololeuca dispersed by marmosets were retrieved in the seed traps and germinated. We estimated a potential seed rain of more than 600 C. hololeuca seeds ha‐1 mo‐1. 4. Synthesis and applications. Our study demonstrates that this new technique can make use of generalist frugivores to assist restoration or regeneration into sites where seed dispersal is compromised by the lack of dispersers or limited seed arrival. Inducing seed dispersal by generalist frugivores is a low‐cost and easy‐managed technique that can be applied year‐round in restoration and forest enrichments at all scales.
... A successful case of framework species approach applied in Thailand is shown inFigure 4.Maximizing biodiversity depends not only on the number of species reintroduced but also on the functions they perform. Promoting mutualistic interactions, such as those involving native tree species and fungi, seed-dispersing animals, pollinators and other organisms, is crucial to achieving a resilient, biodiverse restored ecosystem(McAlpine et al., 2016;Steidinger et al., 2019), but the importance of such interactions is often underestimated. ...
Article
Full-text available
Urgent solutions to global climate change are needed. Ambitious tree‐planting initiatives, many already underway, aim to sequester enormous quantities of carbon to partly compensate for anthropogenic CO2 emissions, which are a major cause of rising global temperatures. However, tree planting that is poorly planned and executed could actually increase CO2 emissions and have long‐term, deleterious impacts on biodiversity, landscapes and livelihoods. Here, we highlight the main environmental risks of large‐scale tree planting and propose 10 golden rules, based on some of the most recent ecological research, to implement forest ecosystem restoration that maximizes rates of both carbon sequestration and biodiversity recovery while improving livelihoods. These are as follows: (1) Protect existing forest first; (2) Work together (involving all stakeholders); (3) Aim to maximize biodiversity recovery to meet multiple goals; (4) Select appropriate areas for restoration; (5) Use natural regeneration wherever possible; (6) Select species to maximize biodiversity; (7) Use resilient plant material (with appropriate genetic variability and provenance); (8) Plan ahead for infrastructure, capacity and seed supply; (9) Learn by doing (using an adaptive management approach); and (10) Make it pay (ensuring the economic sustainability of the project). We focus on the design of long‐term strategies to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises and support livelihood needs. We emphasize the role of local communities as sources of indigenous knowledge, and the benefits they could derive from successful reforestation that restores ecosystem functioning and delivers a diverse range of forest products and services. While there is no simple and universal recipe for forest restoration, it is crucial to build upon the currently growing public and private interest in this topic, to ensure interventions provide effective, long‐term carbon sinks and maximize benefits for biodiversity and people.
... There is compelling evidence that density-dependent effects that mediate biotic interactions play an important role in species coexistence (Janzen 1970, Connell 1971Tilman, 1994;Nathan and Casagrandi 2004;Silvertown, 2004;Strauss and Irwin, 2004;Nottebrock et al., 2017). Even though the ecological theory offers the basis for restoration practices (Kollmann et al., 2016;Lindenmayer, 2020;Palmer et al., 1997;Török and Helm, 2017), only a small portion of the restoration initiatives consider the multitrophic interactions between plants and animals, as well as the density-dependent effects that influence these interactions (McAlpine et al., 2016). The inclusion of multitrophic interactions in the approach of restoration practices is especially relevant for restoration initiatives in terrestrial habitats. ...
Article
Plants are involved in different interactions with animals that may have contrasting effects on their reproductive output. However, as multitrophic interactions are resource-mediated and density-dependent, the frequency at which these interactions occur is modulated by the demographical characteristics of the populations of interacting species. For example, while plant aggregation may increase pollinator attraction and consequently, pollination success, an increased seed set may also attract more seed predators. Therefore, the intensity of pollination and seed predation events may affect plant population dynamics. Although multitrophic plant-animal interactions are crucial for maintaining biodiversity in terrestrial ecosystems, they have seldom been studied together, especially in restored habitats. To fill this gap, we used five restoration sites that used Inga vera trees at different densities to evaluate how density-dependent effects impact fruit set, seed predation, seed germination rate and the number of viable germinated seeds (i.e., the net effect of pollination and seed predation). Using structural equation models to assess the isolated effects of each predictor variable in each response variable and the cascading effects of each response variable on another, we found that density-dependent effects influenced I. vera reproduction. While I. vera trees in high density presented higher fruit set and seed predation rates, trees in low-density plantations presented lower fruit set, but seed predators consumed fewer seeds. The contrasting results of final seed germination rates revealed that density-dependent effects are pivotal to plant establishment and population dynamics. We argue that the study of density-dependent multitrophic plant-animal interactions is essential to guarantee that the efforts done in restoration initiatives can turn into successful results in terms of restoring ecosystem structure and stability.
... Dans le contexte de la conservation des espèces, la restauration écologique peut aussi être un outil orienté en faveur d'une espèce cible (McAlpine et al. 2016;Hale et al. 2019). Dans ce contexte, son objectif n'est pas centré sur un écosystème dans son ensemble, mais sur l'état de conservation d'une espèce ou d'une population. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
Pour faire face aux changements rapides de l’environnement induits par l’Homme, de nombreuses politiques publiques de protection de la nature ont été mises en place. Parmi celles-ci, les mesures compensatoires conduisent à restaurer des habitats d’espèces, qui peuvent cependant créer des pièges écologiques. Ce risque est particulièrement grand pour les dispositifs artificiels, largement plébiscités, dont il est aujourd’hui crucial d’évaluer l’impact sur les populations. Dans cette thèse, à travers les exemples du Rollier d’Europe et des Laridés coloniaux nichant dans le Sud de la France, je montre que le test de l’hypothèse de piège écologique est bien adapté à l’évaluation des dispositifs artificiels, et est généralisable à d’autres contextes. L’étude de mécanismes de création des pièges permet également la formulation de recommandations. Je propose une démarche adaptative pour la conception, la mise en œuvre et l’évaluation des projets de restauration et de compensation écologique.
... Aves y restauración Las aves como guías en los procesos de restauración La recuperación de un ecosistema depende de la comprensión de las relaciones que ocurren entre diferentes grupos en un ecosistemas, entre ellos animales y plantas; entonces, es necesario que la restauración ecológica integre la evaluación de la respuesta de los animales a este proceso. Esto se puede lograr a través del estudio de las transformaciones de la flora y los cambios en la fauna (McAlpine et al., 2016). Las aves son uno de los indicadores más usados por la facilidad en su estudio, a partir de ellas es posible evaluar los tratamientos en restauración ecológica y los cambios en sus comunidades a lo largo del tiempo, por ejemplo, en el contexto del paisaje. ...
... If community assessments indicate that the species or functions of interest are absent, this information can be used to outline the restoration techniques required to attract target species. This is key for reestablishing plant-animal interactions critical to healthy ecosystem function (McAlpine et al., 2016). ...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction: Background and Research Aims Assessing biodiversity recovery is key to determine whether the objectives of habitat restoration for conservation are met. Many restoration initiatives use cross-sectional comparisons of wildlife communities to infer restoration impact instead of longitudinal assessments from a baseline state. Using an indicator of biodiversity in the neotropics— bats— we demonstrate how assessing community diversity and composition in an area targeted for restoration prior to implementation, and when compared to surrounding intact forest, provides the groundwork to track changes in the community post-restoration. Methods We assessed bat communities by 1) using mist-net surveys to identify species in the family Phyllostomidae (leaf-nosed bats), and 2) conducting acoustic surveys to identify non-phyllostomid species (aerial insectivores). Results For both groups, we found that areas targeted for restoration had similar diversity as the surrounding forest, but the two habitat types differed in community composition. Phyllostomids were captured at higher rates in forest, but aerial insectivores were detected at higher rates in restoration habitat. Conclusion Our baseline assessment revealed unexpected diversity in areas targeted for restoration. The presence of all trophic groups in restoration habitat suggests that bats provide key ecosystem services in the restoration process, such as through seed dispersal, pollination and insect pest control. Implications for Conservation: Conducting a baseline survey of bats in areas targeted for restoration demonstrated that the community was not species poor at the baseline and was different from the surrounding forest, allowing us to better track restoration success and the effects of different restoration treatments.
... Most of the research on ecological restoration has been conducted in plant communities [2,3] mainly because the natural succession of vegetation will determine the result of the restoration for other taxa [4]. Nevertheless, according to the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) [1], the main goal of the ecological restoration is to recover not only the structure of the ecosystem but also its function. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background Restoration practices usually emphasize on the structural part of the biodiversity; also, most studies have focused on plants and very few have been conducted on arthropods and its function after restoration. The Pedregal de San Angel Ecological Reserve (PSAER) is a protected area immersed in Mexico City and it has been drastically affected by different anthropogenic disturbances. The aim of this study was to compare the relative diversity, richness, and abundance of species level identification, but also the composition through an analysis of ordination of taxonomic (species, family, and order level) and functional (trophic guild) traits of arthropods in three sites subjected to ecological restoration within the PSAER. Restored sites were also compared to conserved and disturbed sites, to evaluate whether restoration efforts are effective at the reserve. Methods Arthropods were sampled using pan traps during September 2013 in 11 sites (three restored, four conserved and four disturbed) inside the PSAER. All sampled species were taxonomically identified at species of morphospecies (inside a family) and assigned to a trophic guild. Differences in diversity, richness and abundance were evaluated through effective number of species, comparisons of Chao’s1 estimated richness and a non-parametric Kruskal–Wallis test, respectively. Both taxonomic and trophic guild composition were evaluated using a multivariate analysis and a post hoc test. Results We found some differences in richness, abundance, and diversity between sites, but not a clear pattern of differentiation between restored to disturbed sites. The NMDS showed differences at species and order level, and with trophic guilds, among site types. Families were not useful to differentiate types of sites. Regarding guilds, predators were more abundant in conserved sites, while phytophagous insects were more abundant in disturbed sites. Conclusions Species and order level were useful to identify differences in communities of arthropods in sites with different management. The trophic guild approach provides information about the functional state of the restored sites. Nevertheless, our quick evaluation shows that restoration efforts at PSAER have not been successful in differentiate restored to disturbed sites yet.
... Mainly, mangrove restoration activities are based on recovering hydrologic processes and substrate retention through reforestation. Therefore, the ecosystem restoration indicators have focused on hydrology and vegetation structure (McAlpine et al., 2016). However, the biotic interactions that include vertebrates (e.g., fish and birds), invertebrates (e.g., crustaceans and insects), primary producers (e.g., algae and plants), and food webs reflect the restoration progress of ecosystem functions in less time (Bosire et al., 2008). ...
Article
Full-text available
The loss of mangrove areas due to anthropogenic activities has triggered efforts to recover or restore these ecosystems, their functions, and associated diversity. Such functions include nursery areas and energy flow through trophic relationships for a large variety of inhabitant species (e.g., fish). The food webs and trophic dynamics of estuarine fish provide important information on the food resources in mangrove ecosystems and their response to restoration processes. Nonetheless, few studies focus on using fish feeding characteristics as an approximation to assess the conservation or recovery status of these aquatic ecosystems. Thus, the aim of the present study was to compare the trophic dynamics of an ichthyic community in a mangrove ecosystem related to karstic wetlands in the Mexican–Caribbean using freshwater, estuarine, and marine fish species as bioindicators of the restoration process in mangroves. Stomach contents were analyzed for eight species of fish inhabiting specific mangrove zones (1—conserved zone, and 2—restored zone; a zone exposed to ecological restoration processes due to impacts of anthropic activities) related to karstic wetlands in the Mexican–Caribbean. Four feeding characteristics were considered: trophic guild, trophic level, feeding strategy, and prey abundance. Results showed differences and changes in the use of food sources at the trophic level mainly for Floridichthys polyommus , changing from a secondary consumer in the conserved zones to a primary consumer in the restored zones. This suggests that the feeding characteristics of the inhabiting fish are related to the mangrove’s conservation/restoration status and the trophic dynamics in the community. The results of this study are relevant as a tool for mangrove restoration plans regarding the analysis of fish and their food prey, in order to perform an easy and rapid assessment to determine the conservation/restoration status of these aquatic ecosystems from a functional perspective.
... Seminal reviews on the state of restoration ecology highlight the need to understand spatial dependencies (Suding 2011), particularly those that bridge the relevant spatial scales of plants and animals (McAlpine et al. 2016). Prior studies demonstrate that many animals, including toucans, select habitat at two spatial scales, first choosing a suitable landscape and then moving selectively within that landscape (Orians andWittenberger 1991, Graham 2001). ...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Large‐seeded, animal‐dispersed (LSAD) trees include some of the most valuable and threatened species in the tropics, but they are chronically underrepresented in regenerating forests. Toucans disperse many LSAD species, so attracting toucans to regenerating forests should help re‐establish more diverse tree communities. We ask: (1) What constitutes suitable toucan habitat in premontane southern Costa Rica? (2) How much do small‐scale restoration strategies influence toucan visitation compared to landscape‐scale habitat suitability outside of restoration sites? (3) How well does toucan visitation predict the richness of LSAD tree species recruiting into regenerating forests? We combined habitat suitability models with long‐term toucan observations and comprehensive tree recruitment surveys to assess these questions in a multi‐site forest restoration experiment. Restoration treatments included tree plantations, natural regeneration, and applied nucleation. Habitat suitability obtained by modeling for three sympatric toucan species was predicted by elevation and the extent and age of landscape forest cover. Within suitable landscapes, toucans visited areas restored via tree planting ≥5 yr sooner and ≥2× more often than plots restored via natural regeneration. Tree plantations in suitable toucan habitat at the landscape scale had LSAD tree recruitment communities that were 2–3× richer in species than plantations in poor toucan habitat, and 71% (15/21) of all recruiting LSAD tree species were found only in plantations where landscape habitat was suitable for the largest toucan, Ramphastos ambiguus. Results support a multi‐spatial‐scale model for predicting toucan‐mediated dispersal of LSAD trees. Tree planting increases toucan visitation and LSAD tree recruitment, but only within landscapes that represent suitable toucan habitat. More broadly, habitat suitability modeling for key seed dispersers can help prioritize restoration actions within heterogenous landscapes.
... Given the urgency of restoring ecosystems in the Anthropocene (IPBES, 2019; IPCC, 2019), an integrated approach that combines habitat, species, and interactions will be required (McAlpine et al., 2016;Strassburg et al., 2020). Traditionally, restoration approaches have been either phytocentric or zoocentric, but their integration is limited and needed. ...
Article
Ecosystem restoration is one of the most promising strategies for conservation in the Anthropocene. Within ecosystems, plant-animal interactions are critical to their functioning, biodiversity and to restoration success. However, there is no systematic assessment of such interactions across restoration efforts. We reviewed 127 articles that examined habitat restoration and trophic rewilding to synthesize knowledge on restoration of four key plant-animal interactions: seed dispersal, herbivory, pollination, and seed predation. We conducted a meta-analysis using a subset of 56 studies, which compared restored systems with degraded or reference systems. We addressed four questions: (i) To what extent are interactions recovered in restored sites compared to degraded and reference sites? (ii) Which management practices enhance interaction restoration? (iii) Which interactions and animal taxa were most frequently studied? and (iv) Is interaction restoration being studied in areas deemed critical for conservation? Seed dispersal was the most studied interaction, followed by herbivory, pollination, and seed predation. Mammals were the most studied group, followed by birds, insects, and reptiles. Importantly, occurrence of seed dispersal and pollination was more frequent in restored than degraded sites. While several studies were conducted in critical conservation sites, some biodiversity hotspots, particularly in Southeast Asia, have been understudied. Future research should focus on understudied interactions (e.g., seed predation) and taxa (e.g., insects and reptiles), so this information can be incorporated into practice. Considering the available studies, we find that both habitat restoration and trophic rewilding are effective in bringing seed dispersal and pollination to a better state than in degraded areas.
... Afforestation in arid and semi-arid areas causes short-and long-term changes in the soil. For example, soil moistureholding capacity, C and N content, pH, and CEC values change over time (McAlpine et al., 2016). Plant root activity and enriched organic matter in the soil may significantly increase the rate of water infiltration and percolation (Whisenant, 1996). ...
Article
free access link until December 12, 2021 : https://authors.elsevier.com/c/1dysf1L~GwQxbd ............................................ Restoration of degraded lands is among the major challenges in Arid and semi-arid ecosystems. Therefore, in many regions where arid and semi-arid climates prevail, afforestation studies are carried out for restoration purposes. This study evaluated long-term afforestation practices in terms of ecosystem restoration in the arid lands of Central Anatolia, Turkey. For the study, sample afforestation sites of different ages were chosen in the Tuz Gölü-Konya basin. Species in the sites included black pine (Pinus nigra), Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia), sweet almond (Prunus dulcis), black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), narrow-leaved ash (Fraxinus angustifolia), and mahaleb cherry (Prunus mahalep). For each sampling area, the survival rates, height, and diameter values of species were recorded. Litter on the forest floor was sampled and then representative soil pits were dug at each site to sample soil from different layers (30, 60, 90, and 120-cm deep) of the profile. Bulk density, texture, lime content, pH, salinity, cation exchange capacity (CEC), and carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) concentration were determined for each soil sample. Approximately 2/3 of the black pine seedlings had died in the first 8–10 years of afforestation. The mortality rate in almond and mahaleb seedlings was approximately 20%. After 25–27 years of afforestation, 1/3 and 2/3 of the initial almond and Russian olive seedlings were lost, respectively. The mortality rate for other species was about 80% for the same period. Black pine had reached over 6.5 m, increasing its height by about 11-fold over the last 10–25 years. In the same period, the increase in the height of black locust was 2.8-fold, almond 2.6-fold, and ash 2.5-fold. The least height growth (1.7-fold) for this period was recorded for mahaleb. The amount of litter had increased 3- and 5-fold, at 15–17 years and 25–27 years of plantation age, respectively, compared to its increase in the open control site. After 15 years from planting, soil nitrogen (N) concentration at the first 30-cm depth had increased by about 1/3 compared to the open area. At the same depth, the soil pH value had decreased by 0.15 units after 25–27 years compared to the rest of the profile. These data implied that soil restoration had been initiated at all sites.
... This regional mosaic of tallgrass prairie and savanna has been foundational to the development of restoration ecology as a discipline. Restoration ecology has often focused on creating plant communities to stabilize habitats (SERI, 2004), support animal diversity (McAlpine et al., 2016) and test ecological theory (Falk et al., 2006). Plant communities can provide indicators of habitat that has not experienced extensive soil disturbances and are often used to prioritize habitats for conservation (White, 1978). ...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Ecosystem restoration projects need to measure progress toward project goals and deliver desired outcomes. This study examines longitudinal plant community data collected from permanent transects at the Nachusa Grasslands preserve in northern Illinois, USA. Managers established permanent transects for repeated plant community monitoring beginning in the mid‐1990s. Native plant communities, including rare species, have persisted, or improved with management over two decades. Planted prairies have lower proportions of native species than native prairies but have generally maintained native‐dominated communities and in some cases, increased presence of native species. Savannas have shown a distinct transition from shrub‐dense communities to herbaceous understories dominated with native species. Restoration efforts at Nachusa Grasslands have been successful at sustaining unique native plant communities through management practices like prescribed fire, brush removal and aggressive invasive species control. As a disturbance‐dependent ecosystem that has developed with human management over millennia, tallgrass prairie and savanna can thrive through restoration and active management.
... Traditionally, restoration monitoring has been largely focused on plant recovery (McAlpine et al., 2016); however, it is increasingly apparent that ecosystem-based multi-trophic approaches incorporating interacting community members are vital for effective restoration (Fraser et al., 2015;Ritchie et al., 2012). Frameworks that consider community structure and species interactions in evaluating restoration initiatives are emerging as a critical global endeavour, particularly where restoring wildlife habitats is needed to re-establish species interactions altered by anthropogenic disturbances. ...
Article
The restoration of habitats degraded by industrial disturbance is essential for achieving conservation objectives in disturbed landscapes. In boreal ecosystems, disturbances from seismic exploration lines and other linear features have adversely affected biodiversity, most notably leading to declines in threatened woodland caribou. Large‐scale restoration of disturbed habitats is needed, yet empirical assessments of restoration effectiveness on wildlife communities remain rare. We used 73 camera trap deployments from 2015‐2019 and joint species distribution models to investigate how habitat use by the larger vertebrate community (>0.2 kg) responded to variation in key seismic line characteristics (line‐of‐sight, width, density and mounding) following restoration treatments in a landscape disturbed by oil and gas development in northeastern Alberta. The proportion of variation explained by line characteristics was low in comparison to habitat type and season, suggesting short‐term responses to restoration treatments were relatively weak. However, we found that lines with characteristics consistent with restored conditions were predicted to support an altered community composition, with reduced use by wolf and coyote, thereby indicating that line restoration will result in reduced contact rates between caribou and these key predators. Synthesis and applications: Our analysis provides a framework to assess and predict wildlife community responses to emerging restoration efforts. With the growing importance of habitat restoration for caribou and other vertebrate species, we recommend longer‐term monitoring combined with landscape‐scale comparisons of different restoration approaches to more fully understand and direct these critical conservation investments. Only by combining rigorous multispecies monitoring with large‐scale restoration will we effectively conserve biodiversity within rapidly changing environments.
... Although zoochorous species in general successfully colonized the restoration sites, 63% of the species not colonizing the restoration forests were also dispersed by animals. Success of zoochorous species is not equally observed among animal dispersers, the difference being related to distinct plant-animal interactions (McAlpine et al. 2016). From our study, we infer that dispersal by bats yields a higher colonization probability. ...
Article
Ecological restoration interventions, in most cases, aim to restore habitat structure and plant community composition, thus re-establishing ecosystem functioning as similar as possible to that of the pre-existing natural ecosystem. However, given the difficulty of cultivating many species, that goal seems unattainable, unless “if you build it, they will come”. Here we addressed the Field of Dreams hypothesis in the context of trees and shrubs of the seasonal tropical forest in southeastern Brazil. We aimed to verify if the species from the regional pool have been able to colonize the restoration forests and if functional patterns exist behind successful and unsuccessful colonization. We categorized each species by dispersal syndrome, seed traits, growth rate, shade tolerance, and rarity in the communities. Most, but not all, species from the regional pool are colonizing forest patches undergoing restoration. Successful colonizers are mostly zoochorous, dispersed by birds or bats, shade-tolerant, of moderate or fast growth. By partially confirming the Field of Dreams hypothesis, our study implies that it is not necessary to reintroduce a large proportion of the regional pool in tropical forest restoration projects, given that many species will later spontaneously arrive, even in fragmented landscapes. However, the existence of a particular functional profile (slow growing species, dispersed by gravity or large mammals) which will rarely colonize the restoration forests should not be disregarded. Even though these are a minority, such species will likely be confined to the remaining natural fragments if they are not included in the restoration projects. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... com 22 plant populations, including their regeneration following eventual disturbances during the restoration process (Howe, 2014). Therefore, in places where seed dispersal is carried out predominantly by animals, a challenge to restoration practitioners is to attract and maintain seed dispersers in the restoration area to recover their mutualistic interactions with plants (McAlpine et al., 2016). In tropical forests, where most plants depend on animals for seed dispersal (Jordano, 2000;Almeida-Neto et al., 2008), the effort to restore seed dispersal interactions should focus predominantly on birds and mammals that form the bulk of seed dispersal agents in tropical forests (Howe, 2014(Howe, , 2016. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
This book contains 23 chapters divided into seven parts. Part I reviews the key hypotheses in invasion ecology that invoke biotic interactions to explain aspects of plant invasion dynamics; and reviews models, theories and hypotheses on how invasion performance and impact of introduced species in recipient ecosystems can be conjectured according to biotic interactions between native and non-native species. Part II deals with positive and negative interactions in the soil. Part III discusses mutualistic interactions that promote plant invasions. Part IV describes antagonistic interactions that hinder plant invasions, while part V presents the consequences of plant invasions for biotic interactions among native species. In part VI, novel techniques and experimental approaches in the study of plant invasions are shown. In the last part, biotic interactions and the management of ecosystems invaded by non-native plants are discussed.
... Although there has been considerable discussion concerning the goals of such large monetary investments (including debate around embracing novel communities or aiming for a predisturbance remnant site (Hobbs et al., 2009), see Section 5), there are clear trends in how we have approached restoration so far. For example, although ecological restoration is the process of whole-ecosystem recovery, plant-only restoration dominates current practices (67% of projects) with only 24% of projects restoring both plants and animals simultaneously (McAlpine et al., 2016) (9% of projects were animal-only restoration and this likely occurs when the plant community is already in good condition). This focus on plants suggests that ecosystems are expected to conform with the "Field of Dreams" paradigm that is embedded within restoration ecology (Palmer et al., 1997;Prach et al., 2019), that is, if you build the habitat, other organisms will recolonize passively. ...
Article
Full-text available
• Restoration ecology has historically focused on reconstructing communities of highly visible taxa while less visible taxa, such as invertebrates and microbes, are ignored. This is problematic as invertebrates and microbes make up the vast bulk of biodiversity and drive many key ecosystem processes, yet they are rarely actively reintroduced following restoration, potentially limiting ecosystem function and biodiversity in these areas. • In this review, we discuss the current (limited) incorporation of invertebrates and microbes in restoration and rewilding projects. We argue that these groups should be actively rewilded during restoration to improve biodiversity, ecosystem function outcomes, and highlight how they can be used to greater effect in the future. For example, invertebrates and microbes are easily manipulated, meaning whole communities can potentially be rewilded through habitat transplants in a practice that we refer to as “whole-of-community” rewilding. • We provide a framework for whole-of-community rewilding and describe empirical case studies as practical applications of this under-researched restoration tool that land managers can use to improve restoration outcomes. • We hope this new perspective on whole-of-community restoration will promote applied research into restoration that incorporates all biota, irrespective of size, while also enabling a better understanding of fundamental ecological theory, such as colonization and competition trade-offs. This may be a necessary consideration as invertebrates that are important in providing ecosystem services are declining globally; targeting invertebrate communities during restoration may be crucial in stemming this decline.
... ellos vendrán" (Palmer et al., 1997). Sin embargo, la evidencia actual muestra que esto solo es parcialmente válido para un subconjunto de especies, en algunos sitios potenciales y que las respuestas de la fauna a las técnicas de restauración a menudo se pasan por alto, sin considerar la importancia de la misma dentro de los ecosistemas (McAlpine et al., 2016). ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Resumen. Los aspectos de biodiversidad abordados en los estudios de restauración ecológica se han enfocado hasta el momento principalmente en la vegetación, asumiendo que la fauna volvería después del regreso de la flora. Sin embargo, la fauna podría participar en la restauración de dos formas: a) como "pasajera", en respuesta al nuevo hábitat en desarrollo proporcionado por la recuperación de la vegetación, o b) como "impulsora", determinando activamente trayectorias de la regeneración de las plantas. En este marco, el objetivo de nuestro trabajo fue evaluar en la literatura científica el estado actual de conocimiento sobre la relación de las lagartijas con la restauración ecológica, con especial énfasis en zonas áridas. A partir de una búsqueda bibliográfica con las palabras claves "lizard" y "restoration" detectamos 72 publicaciones que informaron sobre las lagartijas como "pasajeras", y solo tres publicaciones como "impulsoras" de la restauración. Según nuestros resultados, los países con mayor cantidad de estudios que relacionan a las lagartijas con la restauración son Australia, Estados Unidos y Nueva Zelanda. Consideramos que estos trabajos pueden influenciar el avance sobre esta temática en las zonas áridas de Lati-noamérica, en muchas de las cuales estos animales posiblemente exhiban un rol fundamental. Abstract. The aspects of biodiversity addressed have focused mainly on the vegetation, assuming that the fauna would return after the return of the flora. Fauna could participate in restoration in two ways: as "passengers", responding passively to the developing habitat provided by plant regeneration, or as "drivers", determining the trajectories of plant regeneration. In this framework, the goal of our work was to evaluate in the scientific literature the current state of knowledge about the relationship of lizards with ecological restoration, with special emphasis on arid zones.
... A key ecological process for applied nucleation success is the attraction of seed dispersers to restoration sites, which can be controlled by a myriad of factors such as the distance to seed sources, the tree species planted, and the planting design (Reid, Harris, & Zahawi, 2012;Reid, Holl, & Zahawi, 2015;Viani et al., 2015). Thus, a better understanding of the factors driving seed dispersal is critical to effectively manipulate this ecological process to favor restoration success (McAlpine et al., 2016). ...
Article
Full-text available
1. Pioneer trees with fleshy fruits are typically planted in restoration projects to attract frugivores as a mean to increase dispersal and accelerate forest regeneration. However, differences in fruit traits of pioneer trees can potentially influence dispersal and their restoration outcomes. 2. Here we investigated the effects of bird and plant traits, and distance to forest fragments, on the seed rain using a tree‐planting experiment replicated in 12 deforested sites in Brazil. Factors were fruit traits of pioneer trees (wind‐dispersed, bird‐dispersed with lipids or with carbohydrates, and controls) and distance (10, 50, 300 m) from forest fragments. 3. We found that density and richness of birds and seeds decreased exponentially with distance from fragments, yet these effects were minor compared to the effects of fruit traits on the structure of the seed rain. 4. Overall, plots with fleshy‐fruited pioneers attracted much greater bird activity and seed dispersal than plots with wind‐dispersal pioneers and the controls. For instance, plots with carbohydrate‐rich fruits received more than twice the average species richness and density of birds and seeds of plots with lipid‐rich pioneer trees, surpassing wind‐dispersed pioneers by more than 80%, and controls by over 90%. Furthermore, the fruit trait treatments resulted in morphological shifts in the average traits of visiting birds. Significant differences in bill gape and flight capacities (wing‐loading) were associated with the differences in the seed rain associated with each treatments. 5. Synthesis and applications . Understanding how trait‐matching processes mediating mutualistic seed dispersal by frugivores interact with distance‐dependent dispersal limitation on deforested tropical landscapes is critical for improving forest restoration efforts. This is especially relevant in the context of applied nucleation. As shown here, avian seed dispersal can thus be manipulated in restoration projects in order to increase connectivity and speed up forest recovery and the provision of the multiple ecosystem services that follow forest succession.
Thesis
Full-text available
The vital rates (e.g., survival, growth, and reproduction) of distinct life stages within a species are known to influence the growth and persistence of populations. As such, studies describing stage-specific vital rates, and the factors that shape variation in these rates across species and populations, can help to improve our understanding of population dynamics and species distributions. Moreover, the insights gained from such studies can guide the prioritization of populations for conservation efforts and inform the selection of management strategies under predicted climate and land use changes. Yet life stage-specific vital rate estimates, and characterizations of the physiological responses that influence demographic rates under variable conditions, are lacking for most species. Amphibians are experiencing drastic population declines across the globe. As amphibians exhibit complex lifecycles, wherein unique life stages rely on divergent resources and habitat types, examinations of distinct life stages may be particularly critical for enhancing amphibian conservation efforts. Specifically, juveniles are known to play a critical role in amphibian population dynamics, but are relatively understudied compared with other life stages due to their small body size and often elusive life histories. The main objective of this dissertation was to elucidate survival rates, and physiological characteristics that contribute to survival, among terrestrial juveniles of multiple complex lifecycle pond-breeding salamanders in the genus Ambystoma. I first estimated juvenile survival rates among three ambystomatid species (A. annulatum, A. maculatum and A. texanum) by conducting an 11-month capture-mark-recapture study within semi-natural enclosures. I found juvenile survival rates to be constant through time and comparable among species. These similarities indicated that vital rate estimates from congeneric, ecologically similar species can serve as robust place-holder information to examine the population dynamics of the many amphibian species for which stage-specific data are lacking. Next, I reared larvae of five species (A. annulatum, A. maculatum, A. opacum, A. talpoideum, and A. texanum) from populations along an ~200 km latitudinal gradient in Missouri, USA to metamorphosis under common conditions. By performing flow-through respirometry on juveniles, I found respiratory surface area water loss (RSAWL) and standard metabolic rates (SMR) to differ between species. Though SMR showed no relationship with locality, RSAWL was weakly positively correlated with latitude. This suggested that juvenile ambystomatids exposed to warmer average conditions at more southern latitudes, and thus a higher desiccation risk, may demonstrate the locally adaptive regulation of RSAWL compared with juveniles from northern populations. Given common rearing, it is likely that differences among species and populations had a genetic basis, and were not solely the result of phenotypic plasticity. I then conducted a replicated experiment to evaluate how juvenile RSAWL, SMR, and body mass might influence individual fitness by releasing A. maculatum and A. opacum juveniles from the previous study into the semi-natural enclosures for seven months of capture-mark-recapture. Examining known survival at three time points during the study, I found juveniles with higher initial body mass and/or lower SMR to have a higher likelihood of survival, particularly under warm initial conditions. There was no effect of RSAWL on survival. Acclimation experiments with surviving salamanders revealed that thermal tolerances and SMR demonstrated plastic responses to warming. Further, a simulation of juvenile survival following high temperatures suggested that the two study species may demonstrate diverging juvenile survival rates after being thermally challenged due to distinct acclimation strategies. Collectively, the results of these studies shed light on a key vital rate for ambystomatid population dynamics in a life stage that is difficult to observe. I compiled the findings of these and other ambystomatid studies to propose management objectives and strategies to conserve A. annulatum, an endemic species of the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains. This effort demonstrated the utility of life stage-specific demographic and physiological information for guiding the conservation of biodiversity.
Preprint
Full-text available
1. Restoration ecology has historically focused on reconstructing communities of highly visible taxa whilst less visible taxa, such as invertebrates and microbes, are ignored. This is problematic as invertebrates and microbes make up the vast bulk of biodiversity and drive many key ecosystem processes, yet they are rarely actively reintroduced following restoration, potentially limiting ecosystem function and biodiversity in these areas. 2. In this review, we discuss the current (limited) incorporation of invertebrates and microbes in restoration and rewilding projects. We argue that these groups should be actively rewilded during restoration to improve biodiversity and ecosystem function outcomes and highlight how they can be used to greater effect in the future. For example, invertebrates and microbes are easily manipulated, meaning whole communities can potentially be rewilded through habitat transplants in a practice that we refer to as “whole-of-community” rewilding. 3. We provide a framework for whole-of-community rewilding and describe empirical case studies as practical applications of this under-researched restoration tool that land managers can use to improve restoration outcomes. 4. We hope this new perspective on whole-of-community restoration will promote applied research into restoration that incorporates all biota, irrespective of size, whilst also enabling a better understanding of fundamental ecological theory, such as colonisation- competition trade-offs. This may be a necessary consideration as invertebrates that are important in providing ecosystem services are declining globally; targeting invertebrate communities during restoration may be crucial in stemming this decline.
Article
Full-text available
Reassembling ecological communities and rebuilding habitats through active restoration treatments requires curating the selection of plant species to use in seeding and planting mixes. Ideally, these mixes should be assembled based on attributes that support ecosystem function and services, promote plant and animal species interactions and ecological networks in restoration while balancing project constraints. Despite these critical considerations, it is common for species mixes to be selected opportunistically. Reframing the selection of seed mixes for restoration around ecological objectives is essential for success but accessible methods and tools are needed to support this effort. We developed a framework to optimize species seed mixes based on prioritizing plant species attributes to best support different objectives for ecosystem functions, services, and trophic relationships such as pollination, seed dispersal, and herbivory. We compared results to approaches where plant species are selected to represent plant taxonomic richness, dominant species, and at random. We tested our framework in European alpine grasslands by identifying 176 plant species characteristic of the species pool, and identified 163 associated attributes affiliated to trophic relationships, ecosystem functions, and services. In all cases, trophic relationships, ecosystem functions, and services can be captured more efficiently through objective‐based prioritization using the functional identity of plant species. Solutions (plant species lists) can be compared quantitatively, in terms of costs, species, or objectives. We confirm that a random draw of plant species from the regional plant species pool cannot be assumed to support other trophic groups and ecosystem functions and services. Synthesis and Applications. Our framework is presented as a proof‐of‐concept to help restoration practitioners better apply quantitative decision–support to plant species selection in order to efficiently meet ecological restoration outcomes. Our approach may be tailored to any restoration initiative, habitat or restoration targets where seeding or planting mixes will be applied in active treatments. As global priority and resources are increasingly placed into restoration, this approach could be advanced to help make efficient decisions for many stages of the restoration process.
Thesis
With unprecedented changes in climate and land-use patterns, a decrease in global biodiversity and ecosystem services has been occurring at an alarming rate. This has resulted in widespread damage to the life-support systems upon which every living organism depends on. Reforestation of degraded forest ecosystems is now globally recognized as one of the best natural capital investment options, owing to its contribution to biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and ecosystem services provision. The aim of this study was (1) to unravel confusions caused by the inconsistent use of terminologies describing different reforestation initiatives; (2) to investigate motivations behind recent reforestation initiatives; (3) to demonstrate the use of a restoration decision-making tool, Robust offsetting (RobOff); (4) to investigate the influence of climatic and edaphic factors on reforestation initiative, (5) to assess reforestation initiative success, and (6) to assess the impact of drought on reforestation initiative. A comprehensive review was conducted to unravel the confusion caused by the inconsistent use terminologies describing different reforestation initiatives, and to gain insight into motivations behind reforestation initiatives in recent literature (2000 to 2016). The results showed that there are 10 most common terminologies used to describe different reforestation initiatives. These terminologies were categorized into five groups based on their motivations, namely, (1) Creation or Fabrication, Reallocation and Replacement, (2) Ecological engineering, (3) Ecological restoration, (4) Reclamation, Reconstruction, Remediation, Renewal or Redemption, and (5) Rehabilitation. The recent reforestation initiatives were motivated by the need to reinstate resilient and more functional forest ecosystems (through the planting of a higher diversity of native tree species). This is because species diverse forests are more resilient and functional with significant contributions to biodiversity conservation (fauna and flora), climate change mitigation (carbon storage) and adaptation (e.g., flood control) and ecosystem services that sustain society (e.g., food) and economy (e.g., employment opportunities). Using the Buffelsdraai Landfill Site Community Reforestation Project (BLSCRP) as a case study, RobOff was employed to plan complex large-scale reforestation. The complexity was caused by a mosaic of habitats (‗extant forest‘ and ‗former sugarcane fields‘) with varying levels of degradation, diverse reforestation actions (natural regeneration, current action, carbon action and biodiversity action), a limited budget and multiple goals (biodiversity, carbon stock and employment). RobOff results showed that investing in the v restoration of ‗former sugarcane fields‘ through biodiversity action is preferable because it achieved the highest biodiversity, carbon stock and employment opportunities. Field trials were conducted at the Buffelsdraai Landfill Site to assess the influence of microtopographic positions, and soil physical and chemical properties on the growth performance of the four most dominant planted native tree species (Bridelia micrantha, Erythrina lysistemon, Millettia grandis and Vachellia natalitia). Root-collar diameter, stem height and canopy width growth rates were assessed across the chronosequence of three habitats under restoration (0-, 3-, and 5-year-old), in the upland (dry) and lowland (wet) areas of each habitat. Erythrina lysistemon and V. natalitia were found to be good fast growing tree species suitable for restoration in both the upland and lowland areas, while B. micrantha was suitable for lowland area. Reforestation success of the BLSCRP was assessed using measures of plant richness, diversity, vegetation structure, invasive alien plants (IAPs) and ecological processes, contrasted across a chronosequence of habitats under restoration (0-year-old, 3-year-old and 5-year-old) and compared with a reference forest habitat (natural forest). The BLSCRP was largely successful, but low tree density and an increase in IAP cover with an increase in restoration age were identified as threats to the BLSCRP success. The 2015 El Niño event induced serendipitous drought occurrence in South Africa led to the assessment of its effect on planted tree sapling mortality and on the growth performance of the four most dominant planted tree species in the 0-year-old habitat. Drought effected mortality was highest in the lowland area (34.1%) and lower in the upland area (18.9%). The mortality rate of the nine most abundant species ranged from 10% to 52.5%. Erythrina lysistemon and V. natalitia had good growth rates in both the upland and lowland areas and B. micrantha in the lowland area. The BLSCRP is highly likely to achieve its climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity and ecosystem services restoration and employment creation in the city of Durban, provided the identified threats are addressed as soon as possible. The overall findings from this study showed that future large-scale reforestation initiatives around the globe should be designed to achieve biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and ecosystem services supply.
Technical Report
Full-text available
Identifying and overcoming barriers to ecosystem restoration
Article
Ecological restoration seeks to re‐establish functioning ecosystems, but planning and evaluation often focus on taxonomic community structure and neglect consumers and their functional roles. The functional trait composition of insect assemblages, which make up the majority of animal diversity in many systems, can reveal how they are affected by restoration management and the consequences for ecosystem function. We sampled ground beetle (Coleoptera: Carabidae) assemblages in restored tallgrass prairies varying in management with prescribed fire and reintroduced American bison (Bison bison) to describe their taxonomic and functional trait structure. We also measured seed and arthropod predation to relate management, beetle assemblage characteristics, and function, and to test if function is maximized by trait diversity, dominant trait values, or beetle abundance. Beetle assemblages primarily varied with restoration age, declining over time in richness and both taxonomic and functional diversity, but bison presence also influenced taxonomic composition. Prescribed fire reduced seed predation in summer and arthropod predation in fall. Although seed predation was unrelated to beetle assemblages, arthropod predation was greater in sites with higher abundances of carnivorous ground beetles. The relatively weak impacts of fire and bison on functional assemblage structure is a promising sign that these management disturbances, aimed at supporting a diverse native plant community, are not detrimental to beetle assemblages. The significance of reduced predator function following prescribed fire will depend on the restoration context and whether seed or arthropod predation relates to management goals.
Article
Full-text available
La restauración ecológica tiene un enorme potencial para proteger la biodiversidad, aumentar el suministro de servicios ecosistémicos y mejorar el bienestar humano. Para desarrollar plenamente este potencial y hacerlo de una manera eficiente, es necesario diseñar procedimientos operativos que permitan identificar acciones y zonas prioritarias para la restauración. Estos procedimientos, además, deben armonizar los múltiples criterios de priorización y las múltiples expectativas sobre sus resultados. En este estudio hemos diseñado y aplicado un sistema de identificación de zonas de alta prioridad para la restauración de un paisaje semiárido muy antropizado en el sureste de la península ibérica. Nuestra aproximación conjuga los criterios de prioridad identificados y ponderados por una plataforma de partes interesadas, y la efectividad de la restauración, medida como incremento potencial en el suministro de servicios. Las partes interesadas identificaron y ponderaron 33 criterios de priorización y 24 servicios ecosistémicos. Las zonas de alta prioridad para la restauración, según criterio de la plataforma, coincidieron sustancialmente con zonas de alto suministro de servicios. Por el contrario, estas zonas apenas se solapaban con zonas de alta efectividad. Nuestro estudio muestra que ambas aproximaciones pueden contribuir, de forma complementaria, a mejorar la calidad de las decisiones y facilitar el consenso entre las partes. Nuestra metodología es flexible y puede ser replicada en otros paisajes, incluso fuera del ámbito del estudio.
Preprint
Full-text available
Reassembling ecological communities and rebuilding habitats through active restoration treatments requires curating the selection of plant species to use in seeding and planting mixes. Ideally, these mixes should be assembled based on attributes that support ecosystem function and services, promote plant and animal species interactions and ecological networks in restoration while balancing project constraints. Despite these critical considerations, it is common for species mixes to be selected opportunistically. Reframing the selection of seed mixes for restoration around ecological objectives is essential for success but accessible methods and tools are needed to support this effort. We developed a framework to optimize species seed mixes based on prioritizing plant species attributes to best support different objectives for ecosystem functions, services, and trophic relationships such as pollination, seed dispersal, and herbivory. We compared results to approaches where plant species are selected to represent plant taxonomic richness, dominant species, and at random. We tested our framework for 176 plant species found in European alpine grasslands and identified 163 associated attributes affiliated to trophic relationships, ecosystem functions, and services. In all cases, trophic relationships, ecosystem functions, and services can be captured more efficiently through objective-based prioritization using the functional identity of plant species. Solutions (plant species lists) can be compared quantitatively, in terms of costs, species, or objectives. We confirm that a random draw of plant species from the regional plant species pool cannot be assumed to support other trophic groups and ecosystem functions and services. Synthesis and Applications . Our framework is presented as a proof of concept to help restoration practitioners better apply quantitative decision–support to plant species selection in order to meet ecological restoration outcomes. Our approach may be tailored to any restoration initiative and habitat where seeding or planting mixes will be applied in active treatments. As global priority and resources are increasingly placed into restoration, this approach could be advanced to help make efficient decisions for many stages of the restoration process.
Thesis
L'épizoochorie définit la dispersion des plantes véhiculées sur le corps des animaux. Elle concerne herbacées et graminées, arbres et arbustes étant dispersés par endozoochorie et vecteurs abiotiques. Filtre biotique sélectif, elle façonne les communautés végétales locales à partir du pool régional d'espèces. Les populations abondantes d’ongulés sauvages et leurs longs déplacements créent ainsi de fréquents "liens mobiles" entre patchs d'habitat. J’ai ainsi étudié le rôle de ces animaux, notamment du cerf élaphe, comme vecteurs de dispersion épizoochore dans la structuration des communautés végétales locales en tenant compte des traits des plantes favorisant la dispersion. Puis, j’ai évalué comment structure et composition du paysage affectaient les déplacements individuels du cerf, les distances de dispersion et le site de dépôt des graines. Finalement, j’ai comparé différents modes de dispersion à l’échelle du vecteur individuel. Pour répondre à ces questions, j'ai combiné données empiriques de terrain et approches de modélisation écologique. J'ai constaté que la zoochorie constitue un signal faible, par rapport aux facteurs abiotiques, dans la structuration des communautés végétales, mais les traits facilitant la dispersion sont de bons prédicteurs. J'ai montré l'importance de tenir compte du domaine vital individuel pour ne pas surestimer les distances de dispersion. En outre, j'ai démontré qu’il fallait considérer la charge totale en graines véhiculées car elle révèle la complémentarité des modes de dispersion. Pour finir, j'alerte sur le rôle sous-estimé des ongulés sauvages et domestiques dans la propagation des plantes exotiques, réelle menace pour la biodiversité
Thesis
Full-text available
Les prairies humides alluviales abritent une faune et une flore originales et diversifiées du fait de leur hétérogénéité spatio-temporelle et apportent de nombreux services aux êtres humains (services écosystémiques).Pourtant, ces milieux qui résultent d’activités agricoles traditionnelles sont soumis à divers types de menaces, telles que l’urbanisation ou l’intensification des activités agricoles, associées au drainage ou à la mise en culture et au labour. Ces écosystèmes sont également soumis à des modifications des processus de dispersion des espèces. Dans un contexte de régression des zones humides au niveau mondial et national, l'enjeu de conservation et de restauration de certains sites doit s'accompagner d’une connaissance approfondie du fonctionnement de ces milieux.L’écologie de la restauration est une discipline basée sur les théories et les concepts fondamentaux de l’écologie des communautés, fonctionnelle et du paysage. Les connaissances en découlant permettent la définition de protocoles de gestion des milieux. L’écologie de la restauration constitue en retour un moyen de tester les concepts d’écologie fondamentale. Parmi les processus qui entrent en jeu dans l’assemblage d’une communauté, les filtres écologiques (de dispersion, environnementaux et de co-existence) occupent un rôle clé. Leur compréhension est nécessaire pour l’atteinte des objectifs de restauration écologique.Sur la base des approches issues des assemblages des communautés végétales, cette thèse a permis d’identifier des processus intervenant dans les premières phases de restauration écologique des prairies alluviales. Nous avons ainsi pu approfondir les connaissances relatives à la préparation des conditions initiales via un travail du sol, aux effets des types d’apport biologique, de plus en plus complets, et au rôle de la gestion sur les trajectoires des cortèges floristiques au cours des premières années de restauration écologique.Premièrement, nos résultats tendent à soutenir le fait qu’une préparation des conditions initiales du milieu à restaurer favorisait l’installation des espèces végétales cibles. En revanche, cette préparation ne semble pas nécessiter une intervention lourde (comme un labour profond du sol). Des interventions plus légères, comme une fauche et un hersage, semblent suffisants pour permettre le recrutement et l’installation des espèces cibles. Ensuite, nos résultats ont montré que le transfert de matériel biologique, qu’il s’agisse d’un semis de graines, de transfert de foin ou de transfert de blocs de sol, permettait de contourner la limitation de dispersion et de disponibilité des graines des espèces cibles des prairies humides alluviales, vérifiant les résultats observés dans la littérature. De faibles différences ont néanmoins été détectées entre les types de matériel biologique transféré, mais nécessiteraient des investigations à plus long terme pour être confirmées. Enfin, nos observations ont permis d’apporter des éléments sur les effets de la gestion sur les trajectoires des communautés végétales lors des toutes premières phases de restauration. Ainsi, le maintien d’une perturbation mécanique sur des périodes adaptées permet de renforcer la dynamique des communautés vers celles de la référence.Les acteurs de la société (politiques, gestionnaires) sont de plus en plus impliqués dans la mise en place de programmes de restauration et toutes ces connaissances nous ont permis d’apporter des éléments concrets pour la restauration des prairies humides alluviales.
Article
Full-text available
From introduction: "Based on our experiences as researchers and practitioners in conservation and restoration ecology, we propose five central myths (Table 1) under which many ecological restoration and management projects seem to be conceived and implemented. Myths have value because they help us to organize and understand complex systems and phenomena. Identifying myths can help make the tacit explicit by revealing assumptions that are otherwise hidden. However, they remain simplified and potentially misguided models for understanding and application. The first Myth, the Carbon Copy, addresses the goal-setting process, and as such, it forms the basis of how restorations are evaluated. The Carbon Copy is closely tied to the remaining four myths, which involve the process of restoration and management: the Field of Dreams; Fast Forwarding; the Cookbook; and Command and Control: the Sisyphus Complex. We believe that describing these myths will be useful in understanding how some management or restoration strategies are conceived, designed, and implemented. For example, adherence to different myths may direct actions in divergent directions, as could be the case when choosing between a focus on ecosystem structure (Carbon Copy) or on key processes (Field of Dreams). Examining these myths may also help us better understand why some restoration projects do not meet our expectations. In the pages below, we briefly describe each myth and its assumptions, and give examples where the myth exists. "Our objective is not to abandon what we propose to be prevalent myths in ecological restoration--there are elements of truth in each--but to recognize that there are tacit assumptions associated with each myth. Failure to recognize these assumptions can lead to conflict and disappointing results despite large expenditures of time and effort. Our challenge is to recognize the limitations and not accept sometimes dogmatic beliefs without critical examination. We do not claim that every project is rooted in myth, but suggest that many perceived failures may be traced to over-reliance on one or more of the myths. We do not condemn restoration ecology, but rather provide a means of self-examination so readers can identify from their own experiences what worked and possible reasons for perceived failures."
Chapter
Full-text available
Rather than explaining ecosystem structure and function under a single “unified theory,” ecologists deploy a strong and diverse body of theory to address a wide range of ecological problems (Weiner 1995; Pickett et al. 2007; Hastings and Gross 2012). Theories come in many forms—predictive statements, explanatory concepts, and mathematical and computational models (Scheiner and Willig 2011); yet all share a focus on causal explanation. In restoration, theories help to explain historical events, understand current observations, and predict future states. This last application is particularly important because ecosystems, and the task of restoring them, take place in an increasingly altered world (Steffen et al. 2015). Grounded in theory and empiricism from the ecological sciences, restoration ecology provides the science essential to the practice of ecological restoration, which in turn can be used to test those theories in real world contexts (Palmer and Ruhl 2015; Suding et al. 2015).
Article
Full-text available
1. Neotropical organisms have evolved in an environment of relatively low temporal variation in food availability, but when neotropical forests are converted to agriculture, the temporal patchiness of food resources is increased. Plant species with a continuous (i.e. steady-state) flowering/fruiting phenology are unique to the tropics and may more evenly distribute food resources temporally in agroecosystems. 2. Here, we test the effects of an experimentally planted supplemental steady-state floral resource, Hamelia patens Jacq., on bee diversity and pollination services in coffee agroforests. In addition, we evaluate effects of the steady-state resource during low-density and mass coffee blooms. 3. Malaise trap data indicated that bee species density was significantly higher in coffee agroforests with the supplemental steady-state floral resources [11.89 ± 1.62 (SE)] compared to those without (8.88 ± 1.10). 4. The steady-state floral resource had a negative impact on native bee visits to coffee flowers and a positive impact on Apis mellifera visits to coffee flowers (e.g. during low-density blooms agroforests with steady-state resources had 76% fewer native bee and 130% more A. mellifera visits to coffee flowers). Although coffee initial fruit set rates were higher across all agroforests during low-density blooms (0.74 ± 0.03) compared to the mass bloom (0.59 ± 0.03), steady-state floral resources did not affect initial fruit set rates (Z = −1.05, P = 0.29). 5. Our results suggest that plants with a steady-state phenology can provide more reliable resources for bees, supporting the conservation of wild bees in agroforests. However, steady-state flowering may draw native bees away from the focal crop, especially during low-density flowering.
Article
Full-text available
Resolving conflicting ecosystem management goals-such as maintaining fisheries while conserving marine species or harvesting timber while preserving habitat-is a widely recognized challenge. Even more challenging may be conflicts between two conservation goals that are typically considered complementary. Here, we model a case where eradication of an invasive plant, hybrid Spartina, threatens the recovery of an endangered bird that uses Spartina for nesting. Achieving both goals requires restoration of native Spartina. We show that the optimal management entails less intensive treatment over longer time scales to fit with the time scale of natural processes. In contrast, both eradication and restoration, when considered separately, would optimally proceed as fast as possible. Thus, managers should simultaneously consider multiple, potentially conflicting goals, which may require flexibility in the timing of expenditures.
Article
Full-text available
1. Active forest restoration typically involves planting trees over large areas; this practice is costly, however, and establishing homogeneous plantations may favour the recruitment of a particular suite of species and strongly influence the successional trajectory. An alternative approach is to plant nuclei (islands) of trees to simulate the nucleation model of succession and accelerate natural recovery. 2. We evaluated natural tree recruitment over 4 years in a restoration study replicated at eight former pasture sites in the tropical premontane forest zone of southern Costa Rica. At each site, two active restoration strategies were established in 50 × 50 m plots: planting trees throughout, and planting different-sized tree islands (4 × 4, 8 × 8, 12 × 12 m) within the plot. Restoration plots were compared to similar-sized controls undergoing passive restoration. Sites were spread across c. 100 km2 and distributed along a gradient of surrounding forest, allowing us to compare the relative importance of adjacent forest to that of within-site treatment on tree recruitment. 3. Recruitment of animal-dispersed tree species was more than twofold higher in active (μ = 0·45 recruits m-2) as compared to passive restoration; recruitment was equivalent in plantation and island treatments, even though only 20% of the area in island plots was planted originally. The majority of recruits (>90%) represented early successional species (n = 54 species total). 4. Density of animal-dispersed recruits was greater in large (0·80 ± 0·66 m-2) than small (0·28 ± 0·36 m-2) islands and intermediate in medium-sized islands. Seedling recruitment (< 1 m tall) was greater in the interior of islands as compared to plantations, whereas sapling recruitment was similar, suggesting that island interiors may develop greater density of woody recruits as succession proceeds. 5. Surrounding forest cover did not influence density or species richness of recruits among sites, although this factor may become more important over time. 6. Synthesis and applications. Applied nucleation is a promising restoration strategy that can accelerate forest recovery to a similar degree as plantation-style restoration but is more economical. Appropriate island size is on the order of c. 100 m2. Practitioners should consider the methodology as an alternative to large-scale plantings.
Article
Full-text available
Large carnivores face serious threats and are experiencing massive declines in their populations and geographic ranges around the world. We highlight how these threats have affected the conservation status and ecological functioning of the 31 largest mammalian carnivores on Earth. Consistent with theory, empirical studies increasingly show that large carnivores have substantial effects on the structure and function of diverse ecosystems. Significant cascading trophic interactions, mediated by their prey or sympatric mesopredators, arise when some of these carnivores are extirpated from or repatriated to ecosystems. Unexpected effects of trophic cascades on various taxa and processes include changes to bird, mammal, invertebrate, and herpetofauna abundance or richness; subsidies to scavengers; altered disease dynamics; carbon sequestration; modified stream morphology; and crop damage. Promoting tolerance and coexistence with large carnivores is a crucial societal challenge that will ultimately determine the fate of Earth’s largest carnivores and all that depends upon them, including humans.
Article
Full-text available
Substantial revegetation is required across much of Australian agricultural landscapes. Managers need to minimise the risks of failure and costs associated with revegetation. Whereas 'natural regeneration' of eucalypts is relatively cheap compared with direct seeding or planting tubes, natural regeneration in grazed lands occurs infrequently and under limited circumstances. Management needs to understand the situations in which natural regeneration is most likely to occur and what actions can improve the chances of regeneration. We used a rule- and stage-based model of eucalypt regeneration focusing on events between seed supply and sapling escape to synthesise current knowledge and learn how to improve the success rate of natural regeneration of eucalypts. The model used deterministic rules but with stochastic rainfall, and fire was applied stochastically as well as deterministically. Results from simulations suggested that low-productivity pastures have greater likelihood of supporting saplings than do high-productivity pastures. Fire and grazing can increase the chances of subsequent germination and early seedling survival, particularly in high-productivity pastures. As a result, management actions, such as fire and strategic grazing, can improve the probability of sapling establishment in a high-productivity pasture; however, frequency and timing of management actions are important. The following three sources of uncertainty appear crucial: first, variability in rainfall; second, uncertainty about rainfall effects on stage transitions; and third, variability in seed supply. These uncertainties can overwhelm improvements to the chances of regeneration owing to management interventions. Because rainfall and seed supply have overwhelming effects on the process of regeneration, they limit the ability of managers to influence the outcomes and this makes investment in natural regeneration inherently risky. Thus, better data are needed on the effect of rainfall on stage transitions and on spatial and temporal variation in seed supply. This would aid managers to estimate the likelihood of success of regeneration, and make decisions about if, when and where to invest in natural regeneration and what actions to implement.
Article
Full-text available
A growing understanding of the ecology of seed dispersal has so far had little influence on conservation practice, while the needs of conservation practice have had little influence on seed dispersal research. Yet seed dispersal interacts decisively with the major drivers of biodiversity change in the 21st century: habitat fragmentation, overharvesting, biological invasions, and climate change. We synthesize current knowledge of the effects these drivers have on seed dispersal to identify research gaps and to show how this information can be used to improve conservation management. The drivers, either individually, or in combination, have changed the quantity, species composition, and spatial pattern of dispersed seeds in the majority of ecosystems worldwide, with inevitable consequences for species survival in a rapidly changing world. The natural history of seed dispersal is now well-understood in a range of landscapes worldwide. Only a few generalizations that have emerged are directly applicable to conservation man- agement, however, because they are frequently confounded by site-specific and species-specific varia- tion. Potentially synergistic interactions between disturbances are likely to exacerbate the negative impacts, but these are rarely investigated. We recommend that the conservation status of functionally unique dispersers be revised and that the conservation target for key seed dispersers should be a popu- lation size that maintains their ecological function, rather than merely the minimum viable population. Based on our analysis of conservation needs, seed dispersal research should be carried out at larger spa- tial scales in heterogenous landscapes, examining the simultaneous impacts of multiple drivers on com- munity-wide seed dispersal networks.
Article
Full-text available
By 1974, the Mauritius kestrel had declined to only four known wild birds, including one breeding pair, as a result of habitat loss and pesticide contamination. A conservation project begun in 1973 has used many management techniques including captive breeding, supplemental feeding of wild birds, provision of nestboxes, multiple clutching, egg pulling, artificial incubation, hand rearing and release of captive-bred and captive-reared birds by hacking, fostering and predator control. A total of 331 kestrels were released up to the end of the 1993-1994 breeding season; a third of these were captive bred, the rest were derived from eggs harvested from the wild. About 257 (78%) released birds survived to independence and 61% of independent juveniles survived their first winter. Although at least 71% of ringed birds attempted to breed in their first year, only 38% of the nests of first-year females successfully fledged young, averaging 1.7 per successful nest. Older females fledged young from 64% of nests, fledging an average of 2.0 per successful nest. Annual replacement of birds holding territories averaged 17% for both sexes. By the 1993-1994 season, an estimated 56-68 pairs had established territories in the wild with a post-breeding population, including floating birds and independent young, of 222-286. Mauritius kestrels are relatively sedentary; 89% of ringed birds found nesting were less than 5 km from their release of fledging site. Since the pesticides responsible for their decline are no longer used, numbers should continue to rise through natural recruitment. The distribution of suitable habitat suggests that an eventual population of 500-600 kestrels on Mauritius is possible. -from Authors
Article
Full-text available
After tropical lands have been abandoned from anthropogenic pressures, often forest structure and some species recover naturally. Studies suggest, however, that mature-forest species are frequently slow to establish and an active management strategy may be necessary. We tested direct seeding of mature-forest species as a restoration strategy in sites previously used for slash-and-burn agriculture in semi-evergreen, seasonal forest in the Yucatan peninsula, Mexico, and evaluated when in the successional process this strategy had the highest success rate. We planted three mature-forest species (Brosimum alicastrum, Enterolobium cyclocarpum, and Manilkara zapota) in three forest ages: recently abandoned (<5 years), young successional forest (8–15 years), and reference forest (>50 years). Overall, an average of 5–41% of planted seeds germinated, and 3–35% were present through the seedling stage. Only M. zapota had higher germination in the reference forest than in the other forest ages, whereas the other two species had similar percentage germination in all successional stages. Of the seeds that germinated in the 8–15 years sites and the reference forest, 58–95% of the seedlings survived through the end of the study, whereas survival in recently abandoned sites was less than 50% in most cases. Seedling height was generally similar across forest age categories. Our results suggest that direct seeding these mature-forest species after the first few years of natural succession could be a successful strategy to accelerate and guarantee their establishment.
Article
Full-text available
Deer have expanded their range and increased dramatically in abundance worldwide in recent decades. They inflict major economic losses in forestry, agriculture, and transportation and contribute to the transmission of several animal and human diseases. Their impact on natural ecosystems is also dramatic but less quantified. By foraging selectively, deer affect the growth and survival of many herb, shrub, and tree species, modifying patterns of relative abundance and vegetation dynamics. Cascading effects on other species extend to insects, birds, and other mammals. In forests, sustained overbrowsing reduces plant cover and diversity, alters nutrient and carbon cycling, and redirects succession to shift future overstory composition. Many of these simplified alternative states appear to be stable and difficult to reverse. Given the influence of deer on other organisms and natural processes, ecologists should actively participate in efforts to understand, monitor, and reduce the impact of deer on ecosystems.
Article
Full-text available
Around the world, there is growing desire and momentum for ecological restoration to happen faster, with better quality, and in more extensive areas. The question we ask is how can laws and governmental regulations best contribute to effective, successful, and broad-scale restoration? In the state of São Paulo, Brazil, there is a legal instrument (SMA 08-2008) whose aim is to increase the effectiveness of tropical forest restoration projects in particular. It establishes, among other things, requirements regarding the minimum number of native tree species to be reached within a given period of time in restoration projects and the precise proportion of functional groups or threatened species to be included when reforestation with native species is used as a restoration technique. There are, however, two differing perspectives among Brazilian restoration ecologists on the appropriateness of such detailed legal rules. For some, the rules help increase the chances that mandatory projects of ecological restoration will succeed. For the other group, there is no single way to achieve effective ecosystem restoration, and the existing science and know-how are far from sufficient to establish standardized technical and methodological norms or to justify that such norms be imposed. Both points of view are discussed here, aiming to help those developing new legislation and improving existing laws about ecological restoration. The precedents established in São Paulo, and at the federal level in Brazil, and the ongoing debate about those laws are worth considering and possibly applying elsewhere.
Article
Full-text available
We explore empirical and theoretical evidence for the functional significance of plant-litter diversity and the extraordinary high diversity of decomposer organisms in the process of litter decomposition and the consequences for biogeochemical cycles. Potential mechanisms for the frequently observed litter-diversity effects on mass loss and nitrogen dynamics include fungi-driven nutrient transfer among litter species, inhibition or stimulation of microorganisms by specific litter compounds, and positive feedback of soil fauna due to greater habitat and food diversity. Theory predicts positive effects of microbial diversity that result from functional niche complementarity, but the few existing experiments provide conflicting results. Microbial succession with shifting enzymatic capabilities enhances decomposition, whereas antagonistic interactions among fungi that compete for similar resources slow litter decay. Soil-fauna diversity manipulations indicate that the number of trophic levels, species identity, and the presence of keystone species have a strong impact on decomposition, whereas the importance of diversity within functional groups is not clear at present. In conclusion, litter species and decomposer diversity can significantly influence carbon and nutrient turnover rates; however, no general or predictable pattern has emerged. Proposed mechanisms for diversity effects need confirmation and a link to functional traits for a comprehensive understanding of how biodiversity interacts with decomposition processes and the consequences of ongoing biodiversity loss for ecosystem functioning.
Article
Full-text available
We used exclosures to assess 16 plant species for the effects of planting density and kangaroo herbivory at two recently rehabilitated bauxite mines in eucalypt forests of southwestern Australia. Despite significant climate differences the browsing trends at both mines were similar. By the first harvest (2 months after establishment) there were significant reductions in shoot mass and survival for five species exposed to browsing, while plants at high density were 25% smaller than widely spaced plants. By the second harvest (10 months), this increased to 7 of the 16 species, while spacing effects diminished. We showed the effects of herbivory to be profound, while interactions at the seedling stage were minimal. Species with higher levels of protein were not favoured, while those highest in tannins, salts and sulfur were usually avoided. As with other medium-sized herbivores, plant architecture (leaf shape) was a prominent selective agent: in this case, grasses and grasslike species were most likely to be selected and adversely affected, though some dicots were readily consumed. Browsing optimization (benefiting from herbivory) was identified in three native legumes with high growth rates. In our study, herbivore choice often equated to herbivore impact; however, future planting in rehabilitated areas should allow for resilience and compensation by some species. We offer suggestions aimed at broad silviculture practices: we showed that some species benefit from herbivory and suggest these be identified by land managers as they may serve as diversions for nearby rare or vulnerable species.
Article
Full-text available
Exotic plants often form the first woody vegetation that grows on abandoned farmland. If this vegetation attracts vertebrate frugivores which disperse the seeds of native plants, then native plants may recruit to such oldfield sites. However, there is debate about the extent to which exotic vegetation assists or suppresses the regeneration of native plants, and about its effects on faunal biodiversity. These issues were investigated in subtropical eastern Australia, where rainforests were cleared for agriculture in the 19th century, and where regrowth dominated by camphor laurel (Cinnamomum camphora, an exotic, fleshy-fruited tree) has become common on former agricultural land. The study assessed the assemblages of frugivorous birds, and the recruitment of rainforest plants, at 24 patches of camphor laurel regrowth. The patches were used by nearly all frugivorous birds associated with subtropical rainforest. Many of these birds (16 of 34 species) are considered to have a medium to high potential to disperse the seeds of rainforest plants, and eight of these were abundant and widespread in regrowth patches. Of 208 recorded plant species, 181 were native to local rainforest. The ratio of native to exotic species was higher amongst tree recruits than adult trees, both for numbers of species and individuals. Among native tree recruits, 79% of 75 species, and 93% of 1928 individuals, were potentially dispersed by birds. These recruits included many late-successional species, and there were relatively more individuals of late-successional, bird-dispersed native species amongst recruits than adult trees. The species richness, but not the abundance, of both frugivorous birds and of bird-dispersed rainforest trees decreased with distance from major rainforest remnants. Camphor laurel regrowth provides habitat for rainforest birds and creates conditions suitable for the regeneration of native rainforest plants on abandoned farmland. Careful management of regrowth dominated by fleshy-fruited exotic invasive trees can provide an opportunity for broadscale reforestation in extensively-cleared landscapes.
Article
Full-text available
We formulate the optimal landscape reconstruction problem for 22 birds in the Mount Lofty Ranges (MLR), South Australia. The goal is to determine landscape configurations with revegetation that would maximize the projected number of bird species present across all revegetated sites in the landscape. We use simulated annealing and an iterative improvement heuristic algorithm to find the efficient solutions for different objective functions and budget sizes. Under scenarios assuming that possible sites for revegetation have equal costs, our analyses suggest that revegetation programs in the region should strive to create landscapes with a mean revegetation patch size ranging from 780 to 4010 ha. The inclusion of property value data as surrogates for revegetation costs results in optimal landscapes with more highly irreplaceable (priority) sites in less expensive parts of the region and smaller average patch sizes. This illustrates how the solutions to landscape design problems change with different assumptions of economic cost. The paper represents one of the first uses of decision-modeling tools for optimal habitat restoration on a real landscape. The software and methodology have applicability for general landscape design outside the Mount Lofty Ranges.
Article
Full-text available
Broadscale land use changes are occurring rapidly in rural landscapes worldwide, within which revegetation with native plant species to increase the area of suitable habitat is a key activity. Current models for planning revegetation are based solely on the spatial arrangement of new and remnant vegetation. Making wise decisions about revegetation requires projective models of ecological responses to revegetation, but there are few appropriate data. Substantial time lags are expected in the availability of many habitat resources because different resources are realised at different stages of vegetation maturation. Here we present results of surveys of 72 revegetation sites established over a range from 5 to more than 130 yr from the slopes and plains of central Victoria, Australia. We surveyed vegetation provision of habitat resources essential for many birds and arboreal and scansorial mammals (e.g. canopy, large boughs, tree hollows and fallen timber). Predictive models were developed for habitat resource provision as functions of time since planting, planting density and other covariates. Different habitat resources developed at different rates. While dense canopy and various forms of bark resources developed in about 10 yr, large boughs, tree hollows and fallen timber loads required at least 100 yr to develop. The development of these key habitat resources was delayed in revegetated sites with high stem densities. Habitat resources that are essential for many birds and arboreal and scansorial mammals have long time lags that models for planning offsets or landscape reconstruction should account for. Management has substantial effects: planting at high densities greatly reduces tree girth growth rates and delays the occurrence of large boughs, tree hollows and fallen timber by decades.
Article
Full-text available
1. Conservation and restoration practitioners often struggle to define appropriate targets for restoration. Frequently, ‘pre-settlement conditions’ (the conditions that are believed to have existed prior to European settlement) are used. In this review, we draw on our experiences working with land-managers to restore native ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest (USA) to discuss some of the challenges in using pre-settlement conditions as a restoration target. 2. We have found that information on the structure and composition of pre-settlement communities does not exist in sufficient detail to set quantitative restoration targets. 3. The systems we work in have been so altered from the historic condition (as we best understand it), that mimicking the anthropogenic and ‘natural’ disturbances that shaped these communities is both difficult and unlikely to guarantee success. 4. Furthermore, the pre-settlement condition may not be an appropriate restoration goal given on-going global changes, including species invasions, habitat loss, and climate change. 5. Synthesis and applications. We suggest that rather than focusing on historic benchmarks, restoration goals should be based on ecological principles that will lead to resilient, functioning ecosystems. We provide real-world examples for how scientists and managers can work together to define and test appropriate and effective restoration methods and targets.
Article
Full-text available
As catchments become increasingly urban, the streams that drain them become increasingly degraded. Urban streams are typically characterized by high-magnitude storm flows, homogeneous habitats, disconnected riparian zones, and elevated nitrogen concentrations. To reverse the degradation of urban water quality, watershed managers and regulators are increasingly turning to stream restoration approaches. By reshaping the channel and reconnecting the surface waters with their riparian zone, practitioners intend to enhance the natural nutrient retention capacity of the restored stream ecosystem. Despite the exponential growth in stream restoration projects and expenditures, there has been no evaluation to date of the efficacy of urban stream restoration projects in enhancing nitrogen retention or in altering the underlying ecosystem metabolism that controls instream nitrogen consumption. In this study, we compared ecosystem metabolism and nitrate uptake kinetics in four stream restoration projects within urban watersheds to ecosystem functions measured in four unrestored urban stream segments and four streams draining minimally impacted forested watersheds in central North Carolina, U.S.A. All 12 sites were surveyed in June through August of 2006 and again in January through March of 2007. We anticipated that urban streams would have enhanced rates of ecosystem metabolism and nitrate uptake relative to forested streams due to the increases in nutrient loads and temperature associated with urbanization, and we predicted that restored streams would have further enhanced rates for these ecosystem functions by virtue of their increased habitat heterogeneity and water residence times. Contrary to our predictions we found that stream metabolism did not differ between stream types in either season and that nitrate uptake kinetics were not different between stream types in the winter. During the summer, restored stream reaches had substantially higher rates of nitrate uptake than unrestored or forested stream reaches; however, we found that variation in stream temperature and canopy cover explained 80% of the variation across streams in nitrate uptake. Because the riparian trees are removed during the first stage of natural channel design projects, the restored streams in this study had significantly less canopy cover and higher summer temperatures than the urban and forested streams with which they were compared.