Top "Ten" Papers List for Restoration Ecology
Hobbs RJ, E Higgs, and JA Harris. 2009. "Novel ecosystems: implications for conservation and restoration". Trends in Ecology & Evolution (Personal Edition). 24 (11): 599-605.
- Traditional thinking about 'native' and 'introduced' species and the ecosystems they create needs to be turned on its head. This paper does exactly that, calling us to think about why we want to restore ecosystems and to what. The authors categorize ecosystems into those which can be restored to a reference state, those which will most likely become a hybrid ecosystem, partly novel and partly the reference state, and those which will be entirely novel. It may be that the ecosystems we have are not the ecosystems we wish we had, but we need to work with what is here. Even if we retain our original reference state as an objective, it is likely that our ecosystem will take a trajectory through some novel state, and we will need to think about how to manage those ecosystems as well. This paper makes us think about the purpose of restoration, and forces us to be realistic about what we really have to work with. (global change, novel ecosystems)
- Because so much of the field of restoration ecology is spent figuring out how to kill weeds, and then killing weeds, this paper is extremely important. Before practioners and restoration ecologists jump into response mode on every new weed invasion, or dismiss a weed as a non-threat, we need to consider whether this weed will be a problem and priority under future conditions. In addition, the authors propose that climate change may make some invasives less successful, reminding us to think about how different global changes may interact in unexpected and possibly positive ways. (climate change and also thinking outside the box)
- Threshold models may become increasingly relevant for restoration attempts that occur in the face of global change. Identifying thresholds, however, is difficult, and examples are restricted to lakes and semiarid rangelands. Suding and Hobbs review the concept of ecological filters and discuss ways in which thresholds may be identified for management purposes (even if not identified with the same robustness as would be required by ecological theory). (resilience/thresholds)
Beschta, R. L., and W. J. Ripple. 2010. Recovering riparian plant communities with wolves in northern yellowstone, U.S.A. Restoration Ecology 18 (3): 380-9.
- The authors apply food web theory to the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone. The underlying concept is that without a top predator in the system, herbivores suppress vegetation, and when wolves are reintroduced, the herbivores are controlled, releasing the vegetation to grow. The restoration of food web structure (i.e. the reintroduction of the top predator) is an important consideration in restoring ecosystem function, and most restoration studies target plants rather than animals. This is a great example of taking basic ecological concepts and applying them to a restoration project. (food web/trophic ecology, top down trophic cascades)
- There is growing recognition the symbiotic relationships between mycorrhizal fungi and many plant species shapes patterns of succession and community composition. Few restoration projects, however, consider the role of belowground interactions in determining the success or failure of restoring plant communities. Harris suggests that restoring microbial communities may be essential when restoring completely denuded landscapes (such as minesites), that location restoration project may matter for colonization by mycorrhizae, and that addressing the role of mycorrhizal fungi may further our ability to determine which community establishes along a successional trajectory. (soil ecology, importance of microbes, belowground processes)
- This theory paper presents trait-based community assembly as a framework for the restoration of invaded systems. The theory is that restoration managers should choose plants with traits that are similar to potential invasive species. Operating on the theory of limiting similarities will prevent the invasive species from entering open niches in the restored system. This paper discusses how measuring plant traits in a site can give valuable information for restoration efforts. Choosing a species to revegetate with that has traits similar to the invasive plant (ex: tarweed and yellow star thistle), would be an application used from this paper. The emphasis on functional trait matching in native species represents a proactive, theory-based approach to invasives management beyond current reactive control-eradication strategies. (plant traits/community ecology)
- Building off of the concept of ecological “keystone species,” this paper introduces an important socially oriented concept of cultural keystone species into restoration. Cultural keystone species can serve as a starting point from which to assess the effects of environmental disturbance or stress on a culture and whether it is able to withstand change without losing its identity. Thus, the paper provides a concrete strategy for linking complex social and ecological systems, as well as building partnerships between Indigenous knowledge and Western knowledge (complex social and ecological systems/TEK)
- This review paper addresses the complexity of stakeholder participation in decision-making processes and the best practices emerging from the participation literature. Reed provides a useful summary of multiple philosophies of participation. The paper addresses the power dynamics that are inherent to working with groups, the issues around top-down science communication, and highlights the need for skilled facilitation to help address these dynamics. It also considers approaches to integrating scientific and local knowledge, through triangulation of data. (participation/knowledge production/power)
- This paper was truly exciting to me, and I believe is something everyone in the field of restoration ecology should read. The paper argues that successful restoration will not happen with scientists on one side and practitioners/application on the other. Practitioners need scientists involved throughout restoration project phases (planning, implementation, and monitoring), and scientists need to consider what science would be most valuable to the application of restoration ecology. Simple concept, but one that I think people in the field need to hear repeatedly. 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. This paper points out restoration practices are currently engineering-driven and that ecological knowledge is being under-used. The author suggests important ways in which this knowledge should more effectively influence restorations and gaps in scientific knowledge that need to be addressed.
- The idea of restoration-based credits in an environmental market may sound nice at first, encouraging more people to earn the credits for restoring degraded ecosystems, but it is a dangerous idea when the science has not advanced to the point of being able to really quantify what is 'restored' and how functional it is. Essential to these ideas is the importance of restoration of process rather than simply restoration of structure. Perhaps most importantly, by giving restoration credits to entities which degrade other ecosystems when the replacement ecosystem may not have adequate function, we could accelerate environmental degradation. This paper is a great 'wake-up call' on the idea of determining economic values for ecosystems and the dangers of trading in ecosystem functions when we are not really yet able to measure them adequately, and in fact they may not be truly comparable. (ecosystem services) (carbon credits - Galatowisch?
- Ecological monitoring is critical to determine the success of restoration projects. Monitoring projects are often viewed as management rather than science, however, and scientific funding is limited for monitoring. Lindenmayer and Likens propose a policy of “adaptive monitoring” to increase the effectiveness of monitoring to answer both management and scientific questions. They suggest monitoring projects should a) address well-defined questions determined before monitoring commences b) have a rigorous statistical design c) be based on a conceptual model of the how system may work d) include input from scientists, policymakers, natural resource managers and statisticians. (monitoring)
- The authors discuss the strategy of collecting seeds from species likely to go extinct as a result of climate change. Prioritization of collection efforts can be determined through species distribution modeling. After collection of seeds, the authors recommend monitoring populations, and developing a plan for implementation of restoration or migration when/if appropriate. The authors argue that while the debate of whether or not to assist migration is happening, species are going extinct. They argue that seed collection and storage is a simple solution while scientists determine whether assisted migration is necessary. (Assisted Migration)
- A review of scientific knowledge of human-modified tropical forests. Lays out a clear research plan for restoring these systems, with an understandings of multiple costs and benefits (social, financial, ecological) that must be included in this approach. 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. 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. (whole landscape, as well as human aspect)
- This is exactly the sort of paper that would benefit much restoration ecologists, but which generally escapes their attention. Although it does not situate itself as explicitly as the ones above on a discussion of ecological restoration, it nevertheless follows the same rationale and brings the discipline around to the recognition of the full consequences of a move away from restoring historical states to domesticating ecosystems. Alongside with Newman's essay on urban ecological restoration and the ones above on novel ecosystems, we see the emergence of a much larger and richer field for ecological restoration work.
Some Ideas on Themes:
Sibyl’s list of themes/issues:
* global change, novel ecosystems
* trophic cascades (top down, bottom up)
* plant traits/communitiy ecology
* ecosystems services
* carbon credits
* urban ecology
* invasive species
* applying stats
Melissa’s elaborated set of themes:
* emerging thinking/”thinking outside the box”
- global change contexts
- reference states
- novel ecosystems
- ecological theory applied to practice (community assembly, trophic interactions, soil microbes, etc)
- broader knowledge production/inclusion (TEK, stakeholder involvement, etc)
- communication between practitioners and scientists
- social theory, political context, economics
- human-dominated ecosystems (we are a part of the system, urban systems need to be considered)
Some of our brainstorming ideas for broad theme:
* whole ecosystem approach/context
* world is changing, restoring in the face of change
* data driven restoration concepts