Prioritization of the restoration species pool to maximize restoration outcomes

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Emma Ladouceur

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It is worth thinking critically about which plant species are appropriate to use for restoration treatments and why. Can we restore targets for not only diversity, but also for supporting ecosystem services and function? Can we be more effective in selecting species for particular targets to maximize desired outcomes and minimize inputs? Our study suggests we can. Here for the first time, we applied decision support software, to prioritize plant species by maximizing the provision of plant traits that enable ecosystem functions in order to compile optimized selections of plant species for restoration treatments. Using European alpine grasslands as a case study, we identified and prioritized plant species to meet restoration objectives that support and may accelerate regeneration. We compared the prioritized species selections to that of selecting plant species for biodiversity (systematically selecting one plant species of every taxonomic family or genera), for dominant species, and for selecting species completely randomly.  Our results suggest that the functional identity of plant species matters more for ecosystem function than the number of species. This novel framework transcends that of a case study, and may be applicable to any initiative, in any habitat, seeking to apply quantitative decision making to ecological restoration objectives so as to optimize the provision of desirable ecosystem functions or targets. You can prioritize anything that can be measured, and this approach has an exciting range of potential applications to restoration and conservation. We present a simple proof of concept but suggest approaches to practical situations.  

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration