Long-Term Success of Different Intervention Measures in Grassland Restoration

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Carol Resch

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Evaluation of long-term ecological restoration projects is indispensable to effectively assess recovery after intervention and validate successful re-establishment of the targeted species or ecosystems. Main goals of restoration are to restore biodiversity and ecosystem processes. Higher biodiversity generally provides higher functional diversity, and both are crucial to reach similar levels of ecosystem processes as the targeted ecosystem. Recently, the concept of ecosystem multifunctionality, integrating biodiversity and multiple ecosystem processes, gained importance. However, ecosystem multifunctionality has so far rarely been used to evaluate long-term restoration success. We assessed how ecosystem multifunctionality, calculated from above- and belowground, biotic and abiotic functions, differs between three restoration measures of increasing intervention intensity (harvest only‚ȧtopsoil removal‚ȧtopsoil removal+propagules). We compared restored grasslands with intensively managed grasslands (initial state) and semi-natural grasslands (target state) 22 years after initial restoration interventions. Our results show the potential of the three restoration measures for restoring grassland multifunctionality. Not only microbial, faunal, and plant diversity successfully developed towards the targeted species-rich grassland ecosystems, but also high levels of ecosystem processes (e.g. nitrogen mineralization) were re-established in the long run. All three restoration measures significantly improved belowground biodiversity and ecosystem processes similar to the one of the target grassland ecosystems. However, aboveground biodiversity and ecosystem functions clearly differed among restoration treatments, with low intervention intensity failing to reach high levels of the targeted grassland ecosystem. Consequently, our study demonstrates that higher intensities of intervention are needed to re-establish grassland multifunctionality. The negative effects of topsoil removal are outweighed in the long run.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration