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
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)
📖 Papers frequently viewed together
420 Citations
515 Citations
230 Citations
78% of Scinapse members use related papers. After signing in, all features are FREE.
#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
view all 3 authors...
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...
361 CitationsSource
#1Jane Elith (University of Melbourne)H-Index: 49
#2Steven J. Phillips (AT&T Labs)H-Index: 25
Last. Colin J. YatesH-Index: 35
view all 6 authors...
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...
2,405 CitationsSource
#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...
430 CitationsSource
#1Stephen T. Jackson (UW: University of Wyoming)H-Index: 52
#2Richard J. Hobbs (UWA: University of Western Australia)H-Index: 97
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...
364 CitationsSource
#1J. A. Weins (TNC: The Nature Conservancy)H-Index: 66
#2Robert D. Sutter (TNC: The Nature Conservancy)H-Index: 4
Last. Stephen Laine (Eglin Air Force Base)H-Index: 1
view all 8 authors...
Abstract A major focus of conservation is on protecting areas to ensure the persistence of biological diversity. Because such areas may be large, not easily accessible, subject to change, and sensitive to the surrounding landscape, remote sensing can be a valuable tool in establishing and managing protected areas. We describe three case studies to illustrate how remote sensing can contribute to setting priorities for conservation actions, monitoring the status of conservation targets, and evalua...
58 CitationsSource
#1Katharine N. Suding (UCI: University of California, Irvine)H-Index: 42
#2Richard J. Hobbs (Murdoch University)H-Index: 97
The recognition that a system can appear resilient to changes in the environment, only to reach a critical threshold of rapid and unexpected change, is spurring work to apply threshold models in conservation and restoration. Here we address the relevance of threshold models to habitat management. Work to date indicates these concepts are highly applicable: human impacts can widen the range of habitats where threshold dynamics occur and shift communities into new states that are difficult to reve...
388 CitationsSource
7 CitationsSource
#1Timothy R. Seastedt (CU: University of Colorado Boulder)H-Index: 48
#2Richard J. Hobbs (Murdoch University)H-Index: 97
Last. Katharine N. Suding (UCI: University of California, Irvine)H-Index: 42
view all 3 authors...
Most ecosystems are now sufficiently altered in structure and function to qualify as novel systems, and this recognition should be the starting point for ecosystem management efforts. Under the emerging biogeochemical configurations, management activities are experiments, blurring the line between basic and applied research. Responses to specific management manipulations are context specific, influenced by the current status or structure of the system, and this necessitates reference areas for m...
403 CitationsSource
Restoration ecology provides the conceptual and practical frameworks to guide management interventions aimed at repairing environmental damage. Restoration activities range from local to regional and from volunteer efforts to large-scale multiagency activities. Interventions vary from a "do nothing" approach to a variety of abiotic and biotic interventions aimed at speeding up or altering the course of ecosystem recovery. Revised understanding of ecosystem dynamics, the place of humans in histor...
188 CitationsSource
Aboriginal burning in Australia has long been assumed to be a “resource management” strategy, but no quantitative tests of this hypothesis have ever been conducted. We combine ethnographic observations of contemporary Aboriginal hunting and burning with satellite image analysis of anthropogenic and natural landscape structure to demonstrate the processes through which Aboriginal burning shapes arid-zone vegetational diversity. Anthropogenic landscapes contain a greater diversity of successional ...
224 CitationsSource
Cited By36
#1Ermias T. Azeria (Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute)H-Index: 12
#2Kierann Santala (NRCan: Natural Resources Canada)H-Index: 1
Last. Isabelle Aubin (NRCan: Natural Resources Canada)H-Index: 15
view all 4 authors...
Abstract Trait-based approaches can provide a generalizable mechanistic understanding of complex post-disturbance succession dynamics of plant communities. Much of our knowledge regarding successional trajectories of functional trait composition come from observations of natural disturbances that leave physical and biological legacy on site for self regeneration. We lack, however, understanding of the long-term recovery in severely degraded lands following reclamation through active revegetation...
#1Connor D. Crouch (MU: University of Missouri)
#2Benjamin O. Knapp (MU: University of Missouri)H-Index: 11
Last. G. Geoff Wang (Clemson University)H-Index: 24
view all 6 authors...
Abstract Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) restoration is an important land management goal throughout the southeastern U.S. On hydric sites within the Atlantic Coastal Plain, restoration may involve site preparation prior to planting to overcome challenges to seedling establishment, such as abundant competition and poor soil drainage. Investment in site preparation assumes that treatments will result in long-term benefits to stand development, yet lasting impacts of site preparation on long...
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...
#1Shana Lee Hirsch (UW: University of Washington)H-Index: 2
Ecological restorationists working to restore species and habitats must make decisions about how to monitor the effectiveness of their actions. In order to do this, they must determine historical b...
1 CitationsSource
#1Shauna Stack (U of A: University of Alberta)
#2Caren E. Jones (U of A: University of Alberta)H-Index: 1
Last. Simon M. Landhäusser (U of A: University of Alberta)H-Index: 35
view all 5 authors...
Abstract Soil is an essential component supporting the growth and maintenance of forests, providing anchorage, water, and nutrients for a diversity of plants. In Canada's boreal forest, surface soils differ widely in their chemical and physical conditions, ranging from coarse to fine textured mineral soils in the uplands to organic soils in the lowlands. Industrial disturbances in the boreal region require the selective salvage of surface and sub-soils from low- and upland areas during open pit ...
#1Jian D. L. Yen (University of Melbourne)H-Index: 10
#2Josh Dorrough (Office of Environment and Heritage)H-Index: 3
Last. Peter A. Vesk (University of Melbourne)H-Index: 40
view all 7 authors...
: 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...
1 CitationsSource
#1E. Louise Loudermilk (USFS: United States Forest Service)H-Index: 14
#2Lee A. Dyer (UNR: University of Nevada, Reno)H-Index: 35
Last. Joseph J. O’Brien (USFS: United States Forest Service)H-Index: 26
view all 10 authors...
Fire is a global keystone process that drives patterns of biodiversity globally. In frequently burned fire-dependent ecosystems, surface fire regimes allow for the coexistence of high plant diversity at fine-scales even where soils are uniform. The mechanisms on how fire impacts groundcover community dynamics are however, poorly understood. Because fire can act as a stochastic agent of mortality, we hypothesized that a neutral mechanism might be responsible for maintaining plant diversity. We us...
#1Brett B. Roper (USFS: United States Forest Service)H-Index: 19
#2W. Carl Saunders (USFS: United States Forest Service)
Last. Jeffrey V. Ojala (USFS: United States Forest Service)H-Index: 1
view all 3 authors...
Historic management actions authorized or allowed by federal land management agencies have had a profound negative effect on salmon, trout, and char populations and their habitats. To rectify past failings, in the 1990s, federal agencies in the Interior Columbia River Basin modified how they conducted land management activities to foster the conservation of aquatic species. The primary policy changes were to provide additional protection and restoration of lands near streams, lakes, and wetlands...
#1E. L. Loudermilk (USDA: United States Department of Agriculture)
#2Lee A. Dyer (UNR: University of Nevada, Reno)H-Index: 35
Last. Joseph J. O’Brien (USFS: United States Forest Service)H-Index: 26
view all 10 authors...
Fire is a global process that drives patterns of biodiversity. In frequently burned fire-dependent ecosystems, surface fire regimes allow for the coexistence of high plant diversity at fine-scales even where soils are uniform. The mechanisms on how fire impacts groundcover community dynamics are however, poorly understood. Because fire can act as a stochastic agent of mortality, we hypothesized that a neutral mechanism might be responsible for maintaining plant diversity. We used the demographic...