Restoration Ecology

I.  A.  Definitions

   1.  Restoration: Returning the land to its former use or condition

    2. Revegetation

    3. Rehabilitation: Visual improvements of disturbed land

    4. Reclamation: Preparation and enhancement of degraded land       

B.  Restoration differs from others:

    1.  Re-establishes function, as well as components, structure, and complexity

    2.  Incorporates humans, including the constructive use of human intervention.  It is not preservation.

    3.  Aims to create a self-generating, sustainable system

C.  Approaches to Restoration

    1.  Compositional approaches
    Community structure and components the organizing principle

    2.  Functional approaches
    Emphasize restoration of system’s functions or services, not individual species

D.  Basic steps in restoration (Hunter, Fundamentals in Conservation Biology; van Dyke, 2003)

1.  Set a goal
2.  Determine a strategy and methods
3.  Remove the source of degradation
    - stabilize land surfaces
    - control inputs of pollution
4.  Restore the physical environment
    - restore productivity
5.  Restore the biota
    - restore diversity
    - restore composition
6.  Be patient

II.  Applications of ecological principles to restoration

“The successful restoration of a disturbed ecosystem is the acid test of our understanding of that system” (Bradshaw, 1987)

1.  Successional dynamics

2.  Disturbance dynamics
2a.  Dealing with variation
3.  Dispersal limitation

4.  Local adaptation

5.  Removal of exotic species

6.  Founder effects and dynamics of small populations

II.  Adaptive Management
A.  Requires:
    •    Explicit planning and statement of clear objectives
    •    A deliberate experimental design.
    •    Active management involves: 1) choice of actions, taking account of uncertainty, 2) monitoring, 3) use of monitoring and assessment in management decisions

B.  Contrast with:
1.  Reactive Management - trial and error, early choices essential haphazard, long time to learn

2.  Passive Management - historical data are used to construct a single best model
    •    Usually confounded with environmental effects
    •    May fail to detect opportunities for improvement if the right model and the wrong model predict the same response.

D.  Adaptive management case study
1..  Kokako in New Zealand

III.  Success at restoration and adaptive management requires monitoring

A.  Goal:  to detect long-term environmental change in a way that will inform decision makers

B.  Why do most attempts at monitoring fail? (Mulder, et al. 1999)

1.  Minimal foundation in ecological theory
2.  Choice of indicators not well justified
3.  Little or no understanding of causation
4.  Trigger points with managment not identified
5.  No connection with decision making

C.  Monitoring example: Cedar Creek

D.  Adaptive monitoring

IV.  Case Studies

A.  Case study 1. Longleaf pine savannah
-  Fire is a key ecosystem process
-  Some work to identify restoration targets
-  What is optimal fire return interval?
-  What should be the spatial scale of fire?

B.  Case study 2. St. Francis Satyr
-  What should be the frequency of beaver disturbance?
-  Can beaver disturbance be replicated?
-  Role of beavers as engineers v. pests?
-  What is the spatial distribution of disturbance?

C.  Case study: Gray Wolf population restoration

•    Nearly exterminated in the US, except in northern MN
•    After ESA, two changes helped wolves
•        - more favorable public sentiments
•        - more food (deer) in new forests

•    “Restoration is a dangerously reciprocal process” (van Dyke 2003)
            - as populations expand, will instigate more human conflict
            - favorable ecological conditions for the wolves (high deer pops) may not be favorable for other ecosystem attributes