Boerner, R.E.J., A.T. Coates, D.A. Yaussy and T.A. Waldrop
In our study, structural restoration involves mechanically modifying the woody plant assemblage to a species composition, density, and community structure specified by the restoration goals. Functional restoration involves reintroducing dormant-season, low-severity fire at intervals consistent with the historical condition. Our approach was to quantify the effects of such restoration treatments on soil organic carbon and soil microbial activity, as these are both conservative ecosystem attributes and not ones explicitly targeted by the restoration treatments, themselves. Mechanical treatments are attractive in that they require only single entries; however, we see no indication that mechanical–structural restoration actually produced desired belowground changes. A single fire-based/functional treatment also offered little restoration progress, but comparisons with long-term experimental fire studies suggest that repeated entries with prescribed fire at intervals of 3–8 years offer potential for sustainable restoration.