Kelly's Top 10

Restoration efforts are influenced by a diversity of factors: social and cultural values, species needs, and ecosystem processes and functions, to name a few. For this reason it is an inherently multidisciplinary field, requiring input from practitioners, scientist, policy makers, community members, funders, and others. Similarly, our class has been made up of a diversity of students who have varying degrees of experience on many different levels and coming from many different realms of expertise. It is for this reason that I think it is appropriate to choose the top papers of the last three years from the categories chosen by the class as they give a good representation of the major emerging and core issues in restoration ecology.

Defining a reference system, setting criteria for success

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

This paper addresses the flaws involved with the continued focus on using historical reference sites to determine restoration goals. More and more this approach is being questioned as influences including alternative stable states and climate change make historical references reframe the question of what we should be restoring a site to.

Links to ecosystem ecology: recovery, succession, thresholds (disturbance regimes)

2. Hobbs, RJ; Higgs, E; Harris, JA. 2009. Novel ecosystems: implications for conservation and restoration. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 24( 11): 599-605.
This paper does a great job of introducing the idea of novel ecosystems which have broad implications for the theories surrounding restoration ecology and more importantly the practice of ecological restoration.

Links to community ecology: community assembly and invasion (biodiversity, mutualisms, trophic interactions)

3. Wallem, P.K., C.R. Anderson, G. Martinez-Pastur, and M.V. Lencinas. 2010. Using assembly rules to measure the resilience of riparian plant communities to beaver invasion in subantarctic forests. Biological Invasions. 12:325-335.

This paper does a great job of demonstrating how building resiliency in a system requires many steps including the identification of important functions which support resiliency and inform restoration activities.

Links to landscape ecology: dispersal, connectivity, urban-wildland

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

This paper provides a review of the integrated landscape approaches to restoration in human modified environments. By looking at a landscape scale approach through the multiple lenses of effects of human land development on biodiversity, provision of ecosystem services, and sustainability of rural livelihoods the authors touch on many of the major social and ecological issues, complexities, and opportunities of landscape scale restoration efforts.

Links to social ecology: education, traditional knowledge, community involvement

5. Gagnon, C. A., and D. Berteaux. 2009. Integrating traditional ecological knowledge and ecological science: a question of scale. Ecology and Society. 14(2): 19

This paper does a good job of comparing how both scientific and traditional knowledge is useful when approaching restoration and addresses how values are inherently involved in both view points.

6. Flitcroft, R. L., D. C. Dedrick, C. L. Smith, C. A. Thieman, and J. P. Bolte. 2009. Social infrastructure to integrate science and practice: the experience of the Long Tom Watershed Council. Ecology and Society .14 (2): 36.

This paper is a useful study in the effectiveness of a community involved project where all the stakeholders are involved to accomplish a flexible and adaptive design. It is a useful example for other communities who wish to pursue a landscape scale restoration project.

Links to economics: ecosystem services

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

This paper provides a broad perspective on the problems involved in giving economic value to ecosystem services and issues faced by the market system in approaching complex ecological problems.

8. Nicolás Kosoy and Esteve Corbera. 2010. Payments for ecosystem services as commodity fetishism. Ecological Economics. 69(6,1): 1228-1236

This paper highlights the technical and ethical implications involved the commodification of ecosystem services which narrows complex ecosystem functions to a sing service.

Interactions with Global Change

9. A Hobbs, Richard 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 Res

This paper reviews the importance of incorperating our growing knowledge of how climate change will have vast ecological impacts into restoration design and management. It also highlights the importance of greater coordination between experts across social and scientific fields in these efforts.

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

This paper highlights the lack of input restoration ecologists have provided regarding carbon offset programs. It argues that restoration ecologists need to be leaders in these efforts to inform restoration projects funded and implemented under the auspicious of carbon offset, acting as a balance to hegemonic financial interests.

The chosen papers did a good job of introducing the many interdisciplinary issues directing the path restoration ecology is taking. Over and over these papers demonstrate how restoration projects are primarily value driven and therefore there is an increasing need to bring everyone to the table as more and more time, energy and money is put into restoration efforts around the world.

image credit: University of Wisconsin restoration Ecology logo


  1. The list headings and paper choices of this list are quite comprehensive and reflect the focus of our discussions. My guess is that others will agree with me on this - of the papers with at least 3 votes, Kelly had included 9 of them.

  2. I too think this is a very comprehensive list, but it's missing my fav-- Palmer 2009.