Hillary's contribution

As other classmates have pointed out, the field of restoration ecology is inherently interdisciplinary in nature, informed by a legacy of historical ecological and social conditions as well as by current social, economic and political paradigms, and the focal ecosystem’s composition, trajectory, and landscape context. In an attempt to capture this breadth, the categories I created are broad and multifaceted; the selected papers incorporate this complexity.

Change: Novel ecosystems, invasive species, and climate
Hobbs, R., J.A. Cramer, Viki A.T. Restoration Ecology: Interventionist Approaches for Restoring and Maintaining Ecosystem Function in the Face of Rapid Environmental Change. 2008. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 33: 39-61 33

This paper acknowledges the explicit human agency and ethos that motivates intervention into ecosystems in the form of restoration.

Seastedt, T. R., R. J. Hobbs, and K. N. Suding. 2008. Management of novel ecosystems: are novel approaches required? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 6:547-553.

This cogent description of novel systems calls for more thorough investigations that incorporate non-analogue scenarios into stable-state theory and management strategies, while challenging societal perceptions concerning valuation of project outcomes. It argues for a theory-based approach that acknowledges current ecological realities.

Funk, JL; Cleland, EE; Suding, KN; Zavaleta, ES. Restoration through reassembly: plant traits and invasion resistance. TRENDS IN ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION 23 (12):695-703. 2008

The emphasis on functional trait matching in native species represents a proactive, theory-based approach to invasives management beyond current reactive control-eradication strategies.

Jackson, S. T., & Hobbs, R. J. (2009). Ecological restoration in the light of ecological history. Science, 325(5940), 567-569.

While history is invaluable, future shifts in climate and species composition may jeopardize projects tied to ideals concerning idealized historic site conditions; this paper helps guide pratcioners toward accessing more complete paleoecological records that can inform alternatives analysis. Thus it does not invalidate the reference system framework, but seeks to deepen the discussion by questioning the assumptions behind it and revealing its inherently “static,” anachronistic nature, while juxtaposing it with the fluidity of ecosystems that lead to novel traits that can still fulfill functional roles or meet project goals.

Galatowitsch, S. M. 2009. Carbon Offsets as Ecological Restorations. Restoration Ecology 17:563-570.)

A large part of the future of restoration may be its intersection with global markets for carbon sequestration (and other ecosystem services). This paper argues that restoration ecologists need to take an active role in shaping the scientific underpinnings of global carbon market, which is currently overrun by capital and politics.

Bridging the Gap: Unifying Science and Practice
Palmer, M. A. (2009). Reforming watershed restoration: science in need of application and applications in need of science. Estuaries and Coasts, 32, 1–17.

This paper summarizes the limitations to success that gaps in knowledge and project breadth generate; it also calls for a closer linking between theory and on-the-ground practice, to generate more holistic, integrated restoration processes.

Multi-scalar Research (organism-community-landscape)

Winfree, R. 2010. The conservation and restoration of wild bees. Ann. NY Acad. of Sci. 4. 1195(1): 169-197.

In practice, most projects are initiated in response to legal obligations to mitigate for endangered species, however such organism-based approaches can be narrow in scope. Looking back over the topics covered this semester, I think that this was one that could have merited additional examination. This paper examines the ecological and political drivers of population decline of a superfamily (Aipodea) at global and regional scales. It looks at the goals and success of specific policies (eg EU agri-environmental schemes) but also includes in-depth discussion of relevant biology and species interactions that make this group, and certain species, vulnerable to disturbance. Finally, it suggests comprehensive restoration and conservation management plans in natural, agricultural and urban areas.

Social, Political and Economic Landscapes

Nadasdy, P. 2007. Adaptive Co-Management and the Gospel of Resilience. In Adaptive Co-Mangement: Collaboration, Learning, and Multi-Level Governance, eds. D. Armitage, F. Berkes and N. Doubleday. Toronto, Ontario: University of British Columbia Press.

This paper reveals the way in which science co-opts and idealizes traditional knowledge to add credibility to its management approaches, and how shifting objectives have utilized these same arguments over time despite radical changes to methodologies. It also engages with the fundamental uncertainties within restoration, and the field of ecology as a whole, exploring the ways that adaptive management can assist in addressing this dynamism, but also where it falls short. This paper tackles many of the assumptions within the current paradigm, and the hidden values driving them that need to be unpacked.

Norgaard, R. 2010. Ecosystem services: from eye-opening metaphor to complexity blinder. Ecological Economics. 69 1219-1227.

At the crux of the novel systems approach lies ecosystem functioning, and by extension ecosystem services. This paper provides a critical examination of the narrow stock-flow framework and associated problems of studying ES. The cooptation by consumptive capitalist forces undermines equal distribution of service protection.

The Matrix Matters: Incorporating Human-dominated Systems

Chazdon, RL; Harvey, CA; Komar, O; et al. Beyond Reserves: A Research Agenda for Conserving Biodiversity in Human-modified Tropical Landscapes BIOTROPICA, 41 (2): 142-153 MAR 2009

The comprehensive research agenda laid out by the authors provides a roadmap toward validating conservation strategies in human-dominated landscapes. Further, it embraces the importance of cross-disciplinary investigations.

I agree with Gustavo, that Perfecto and Vandermeer’s “The agroecological matrix as alternative to the land-sparing/agriculture intensification model” represents a paradigm shift towards conservation/restoration in non-target, human-dominated areas that builds upon the corridor ecology movement which has sought to link landscapes so as to facilitate processes (2010). The argument that the matrix itself has conservation value is novel, and while the activities occurring within the matrix have different goals (food production, landscaping) they add to overall habitat enhancement, thus should be included in regional schemes, but as we have seen, does not comfortably fit within the bounds of traditional definitions of restoration. Vieira et al. and Cramer et al. articles provide relevant examples of this theory in practice.

These papers expand the discipline, setting the scene for continued development comprehensive conceptual framework, which restoration ecology lacks. Nonetheless, there remain critical gaps in this list, such as the role of technology in shifting the on-the-ground practice of restoration and the importance of long-term monitoring. This list also did not sufficiently incorporate stakeholder dynamics in influencing project goals.


  1. Our lists are very similar indeed. I especially appreciate the common ground on promoting the importance of incorporating human-dominated systems, in addition to the social-political-economic considerations of ecological restoration.

    However, I see this list not as an attempt to capture the wide scope of recent research in restoration ecology, as you frame your own, but rather as a way to narrowly define the specific points at which innovative research is heading - and the importance of that!

    So, I ask: why not drop some of your first five or six papers, and then actually include Perfecto and Vandermeer's? Why not complement Norgaard's instead with Peterson et al. "Obscuring ecosystem function..", which may bring more social theory to the problem more than Norgaard? Or even Kosoy and Corbera? After all, these essays, unlike some among your first six, actually challenge and expand the field of restoration ecology beyond its own methodologies for dealing with invasive species or climate change...

  2. I like that you recognized the shortcomings of your own list at the end! It points to where you could add to it if it were upgraded to be a top 15 or 20 list, which I'm coming to think would be a good idea.