Ecosystem Structure, Function, and Restoration Success: Are They Related?

Cortina, J., F.T. Maestre, R. Vallejo, M.J. Baez, A. Valdecantos and M. Perez-Devesac (

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A direct relationship between ecosystem structure and function has been widely accepted by restoration ecologists. According to this paradigm, ecosystem degradation and aggradation represent parallel changes in structure and function, restoration following the same path as spontaneous succession. But the existence of single bidirectional trajectories and endpoints is not supported by empirical evidence. On the contrary, multiple meta-stable states, irreversible changes and hysteresis are common in nature. These situations are better described by state- and transition models. Merging those models into the structure–function framework may help to develop new hypotheses on ecosystem dynamics, and may provide a suitable framework for planning restoration activities.

Resource Type:
Peer-reviewed Article

Journal for Nature Conservation