The best of the best

Richard Hobbs          +

Visuals           =
Fiona's Top 10 List

My top 10 reading list is based off of readings that interested me, particularly from a landscape architecture point of view. These readings all present a large concept and extract a message of how something can be applied on the ground. Most of these readings are non-technical and I weaved out any readings that focused too much on one particular case study, and rather focused my list on readings with bigger picture ideas. I'll admit that readings with good graphics were typically selected. I do feel that in order to convey a concept or idea about ecological  restoration, they have to be presented to a large audience, some of which are visual thinkers. Not every individual who practices restoration ecology can pan through heavy science articles, so I feel that if an idea is intended to extend to largest amount of audiences, it must be able to be read on different levels.

My list also tried to touch on each of the various topics we covered this semester so that it provides a diverse  conversation. Putting together a list, I also tried to imagine that I was tasked with a restoration project and wanted to know where to start or what I should consider, thinking about a variety of scales and concepts before I tackle the project. While it crossed my mind in the past, this list reveals that I really take a liking to Hobbs; hopefully I have not included too much of his work. Lastly, I really felt it was important to include literature that was written very recently. Restoration Ecology is such a young field that it really seems like each year the literature is making large advances, so to keep the list up-to-date is very important. I have tailored this review to fit the interest and practice of a landscape architect and preparing them for work dealing with a restorative nature.

---Background and Context---  
The specifics of a design for a restoration project are incredibly important, but one must understand the larger context of ecological restoration and why such a method is useful in the improvement of our landscapes and environment. Experimentation, observation, communication and the theoretical understandings are touched on in the following papers. Harris, Hobbs, Higgs and Aronson encourage projects with clear goals articulated and layout a relationship of restoration framework from the conceptual understandings to on-ground applications. Harris, Hobbs and Higgs also discuss restoration in the light of climate change, opening discussion of restoration and encouraging practicing scientists and ecologists to consider a "novel" ecosystem. Rather than restoration to a previous historical state, a novel ecosystem has the capacity as a hybrid model to adapt to predicted environmental states while modeling a service or function that is useful in it's context. Novel ecosystems are practical and insightful and can be incorporated not only in design, but also in the decisions used for future management of ecosystems. For a more detailed example of response to climate change at a landscape level and studied from a global perspective, Bradley, Oppenheimer and Wilcove reveal that the documented climate change, which has most recently favored invasive species, may eventually provide an opportunity when looking at the range alterations and may in fact promote favorable conditions of non-invasive plant communities. An additional problem identified by Margaret Palmer in the background of restoration is that it essentially happens on the ground and is studied at the academic level, but there is a huge neglect to communicate between the two scales of operation, resulting in largely missed opportunities for each respective field. Palmer offers advice to bridge the two areas extending the opportunities and benefits to each. 

  •  Harris, JA; Hobbs, RJ; Higgs, E; Aronson, J. 2006. Ecological restoration and global climate changes RESTORATION ECOLOGY 14 (2): 170-176.
  • Society for Ecological Restoration International and IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management. 2004. Ecological Restoration, a means of conserving biodiversity and sustaining livelihoods. Society for Ecological Restoration International, Tucson, Arizona, USA and IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.
  •  Hobbs, Richard J., Eric Higgs, and James A. Harris. "Novel Ecosystems: implications for conservation and restoration." Trends in Ecology and Evolution 24, no. 11 (August 2009): 599-605.
  • Bradley, BA; Oppenheimer, M; Wilcove, DS. 2009. Climate change and plant invasions: restoration opportunities ahead?. GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY 15 (6): 1511-1521.
  •  Palmer, Margaret A. "Reforming Watershed Restoration: Science in Need of Application and Applications in Need of Science." Estuaries and Coasts 32:1-17 (2009). (accessed November 7, 2010).

---Reference Sites---
Restoration is generally thought of as a return of an ecosystem to it's original state. This is a vague and arbitrary understanding of a site, as it has most likely had multiple iterations of its habitat, ecology and ecosystem services throughout time. Before designing what you are "restoring" to, the following literature gives one a better understand of creating a target and a reference site to emulate. Hobbs and Jackson assure us that in order to restore, one must understand the human time scale and look into the future climatic changes so that restoration efforts are dynamic rather than static and are appropriately adaptable in the present and future context. Ruiz-Jaen and Aide outline a Primer created for restoration that addresses specifically the understanding of success once a project is implemented. Measurement of success is drawn from the two questions of (1) what measures of ecosystem attributes are assessed and (2) how are these measures used to determine restoration success.
  • Jackson, S. T., and R. J. Hobbs. 2009. Ecological Restoration in the Light of Ecological History. Science 325:567-569.
  • Ruiz-Jaen, M. C., and T. M. Aide. 2005. Restoration success: How is it being measured? Restoration Ecology 13:569-577.
 ---Ecosystem Recovery---
Understanding the time scale necessary to achieve restoration is an equally important consideration of how to achieve success. Jones and Schmitz investigate the anthropogenic effect on ecosystems through research of hundreds of projects, looking at the feasibility and time scale needed within various ecosystem types. Such research allows one to see the quantity of destruction paired with the duration of restoration.
  • Jones, HP; Schmitz, OJ Rapid Recovery of Damaged Ecosystems PLoS ONE,  4(5): e5653 MAY 

---Social Ecology---
The ecology of restoration projects are heavily tied to a social impact of some sort.  Without social infrastructure, support, funds and collaboration, restoration efforts lack complexity and benefits. Involving a community in the design of a project has Creating a stewardship, a monitoring base and other infrastructures, projects comprehensively create beneficial effects for a community. As evidenced in Flitcroft et al's literature, social infrastructure might include management structure, membership, vision, priorities, partners, resources, and scientific knowledge are all examples key to an enriched program of restoration. Social outreach serves as an actor or agent of success by beneficially adding to the diversity of the restoration.  
  • Flitcroft, RL; Dedrick, DC; Smith, CL; et al. Social Infrastructure to Integrate Science and Practice: the Experience of the Long Tom Watershed Council ECOLOGY AND SOCIETY, 14 (2): Art. No. 36 2009.

---Ecosystem Services---
Ecosystem services  can be viewed as the measurable benefit of an ecosystem which inherently drives the agenda of a project through decision making, management and monitoring. Such services add to the complexity of the restoration ecology field by determining which projects happen over another. Greater support and investment will be made if the restoration is likely to achieve a measurable and profitable service. Attaching values to efforts has and will continue to drive the changes, socially, environmentally, and economically which are invested in.
  • de Groot, RS; Alkemade, R; Braat, L; et al. Challenges in integrating the concept of ecosystem services and values in landscape planning, management and decision making ECOLOGICAL COMPLEXITY, 7 (3): 260-272 Sp. Iss. SI SEP 2010.
In summary, restoration ecology is a complex and heavily scientific undertaking, but through the understanding of the theoretical framework of the field, and exposure to the tools available to achieve the best possible outcome of restoration, one can more knowledgeably achieve "success," or improvement from an existing state. Restoration ecology is imperative in the future management of the Earth's many ecosystems, to mitigate the human impacts both historically and currently.

1 comment:

  1. I very much appreciate your understanding for the need to have a thread, within the larger challenge of promoting restoration ecology, that is for the reader with a non-science background. Ultimately it will be those that have money, power, and the ability to communicate their message louder than others that will shape how ecological interventions occur.