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The Dynamic Reference Concept: Measuring Restoration Success in a Rapidly Changing No-Analogue Future

Published on Mar 1, 2012in Ecological Restoration0.8
· DOI :10.3368/er.30.1.27
John K. Hiers3
Estimated H-index: 3
,
Robert J. Mitchell40
Estimated H-index: 40
+ 4 AuthorsRob Sutter1
Estimated H-index: 1
Abstract
The “past as prologue” approach to ecological restoration is increasingly problematic due to global climate change, invasive species, and human perturbations that are outside of evolutionary boundaries, all of which argue for new conceptual approaches to restoration. We present the dynamic reference concept, an approach that quantitatively incorporates the temporal and spatial variation of reference ecosystems such that targets reflect ecological dynamism. Success is measured by simultaneously quantifying changes in reference and restoration sites over time. To illustrate the practical application of this concept, we present a case study of longleaf pine ( Pinus palustris ) restoration on Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, USA. We use Mahalanobis distance with non-metric multidimensional scaling ordination to quantify the dynamic nature of reference plots and the extent to which restoration sites move toward them. Reference ecosystems were first defined by expert judgment and ecological models including maximum entropy. We then further refined restoration targets through data analysis using Mahalanobis distance to determine plots that were within the 90% confidence region of initial benchmark species composition. Species composition of benchmark sites was more resilient than restoration sites, i.e., changing less with a natural disturbance regime of frequent fire. Restoration sites with higher fire frequency moved more rapidly towards the reference conditions than sites with fewer fires. By quantifying the “moving target” of reference ecosystems while simultaneously measuring change of restoration sites, this application of the dynamic reference concept offers promise to manage for reference conditions that are achievable in a world where change is the norm.
  • References (27)
  • Citations (36)
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References27
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#1Martin A. Schlaepfer (ESF: State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry)H-Index: 18
#2Dov F. Sax (Brown University)H-Index: 33
Last. Julian D. Olden (UW: University of Washington)H-Index: 69
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Abstract: Non-native species can cause the loss of biological diversity (i.e., genetic, species, and ecosystem diversity) and threaten the well-being of humans when they become invasive. In some cases, however, they can also provide conservation benefits. We examined the ways in which non-native species currently contribute to conservation objectives. These include, for example, providing habitat or food resources to rare species, serving as functional substitutes for extinct taxa, and providing...
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#1Jane Elith (University of Melbourne)H-Index: 49
#2Steven J. Phillips (AT&T Labs)H-Index: 25
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MaxEnt is a program for modelling species distributions from presence-only species records. This paper is written for ecologists and describes the MaxEnt model from a statistical perspective, making explicit links between the structure of the model, decisions required in producing a modelled distribution, and knowledge about the species and the data that might affect those decisions. To begin we discuss the characteristics of presence-only data, highlighting implications for modelling distributi...
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#1David B. Lindenmayer (ANU: Australian National University)H-Index: 98
#2Gene E. Likens (ANU: Australian National University)H-Index: 107
Long-term research and monitoring can provide important ecological insights and are crucial for the improved management of ecosystems and natural resources. However, many long-term research and monitoring programs are either ineffective or fail completely owing to poor planning and/or lack of focus. Here we propose the paradigm of adaptive monitoring, which aims to resolve many of the problems that have undermined previous attempts to establish long-term research and monitoring. This paradigm is...
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#1Stephen T. Jackson (UW: University of Wyoming)H-Index: 52
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Ecological history plays many roles in ecological restoration, most notably as a tool to identify and characterize appropriate targets for restoration efforts. However, ecological history also reveals deep human imprints on many ecological systems and indicates that secular climate change has kept many targets moving at centennial to millennial time scales. Past and ongoing environmental changes ensure that many historical restoration targets will be unsustainable in the coming decades. Ecologic...
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#1Katharine N. Suding (UCI: University of California, Irvine)H-Index: 42
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Our understanding of how ecosystems function has changed from an equilibria-based view to one that recognizes the dynamic, fluctuating, nonlinear nature of aquatic systems. This current understanding requires that we manage systems for resilience. In this review, we examine how resilience has been defined, measured and applied in aquatic systems, and more broadly, in the socioecological systems in which they are embedded. Our review reveals the importance of managing stressors adversely impactin...
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: Effective environmental assessment and management requires quantifiable biodiversity targets. Biodiversity benchmarks define these targets by focusing on specific biodiversity metrics, such as species richness. However, setting fixed targets can be challenging because many biodiversity metrics are highly variable, both spatially and temporally. We present a multivariate, hierarchical Bayesian method to estimate biodiversity benchmarks based on the species richness and cover of native terrestri...
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