Are Functional Guilds More Realistic Management Units than Individual Species for Restoration?

Brown, C.S.

Publication Date:

Functional guilds condense species lists by grouping species according to similarities in characteristics we believe to be important in a particular context. These groupings can allow us to (1) ensure community and ecosystem structural and functional attributes, (2) increase competitiveness of the community to deter the establishment of undesirable species, (3) simplify and test models of community assembly including resistance to invasion, succession, and species coexistence, and (4) facilitate cross-site comparisons. As useful as functional guilds can be, we must not overlook the potentially important roles of individual species. In restoration, including multiple species that represent each functional type within a target community may provide a buffer against environmental change. Functional guilds provide realistic conceptual units to ensure that restored plant communities include species that confer the ecological functions of most importance the majority of the time.

Resource Type:
Peer-reviewed Article

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