Integrating trait-based empirical and modeling research to improve ecological restoration

Sebastian Fiedler, Michael P. Perring, Britta Tietjen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

A global ecological restoration agenda has led to ambitious programs in environmental policy to mitigate declines in biodiversity and ecosystem services. Current restoration programs can incompletely return desired ecosystem service levels, while resilience of restored ecosystems to future threats is unknown. It is therefore essential to advance understanding and better utilize knowledge from ecological literature in restoration approaches. We identified an incomplete linkage between global change ecology, ecosystem function research, and restoration ecology. This gap impedes a full understanding of the interactive effects of changing environmental factors on the long-term provision of ecosystem functions and a quantification of trade-offs and synergies among multiple services. Approaches that account for the effects of multiple changing factors on the composition of plant traits and their direct and indirect impact on the provision of ecosystem functions and services can close this gap. However, studies on this multilayered relationship are currently missing. We therefore propose an integrated restoration agenda complementing trait-based empirical studies with simulation modeling. We introduce an ongoing case study to demonstrate how this framework could allow systematic assessment of the impacts of interacting environmental factors on long-term service provisioning. Our proposed agenda will benefit restoration programs by suggesting plant species compositions with specific traits that maximize the supply of multiple ecosystem services in the long term. Once the suggested compositions have been implemented in actual restoration projects, these assemblages should be monitored to assess whether they are resilient as well as to improve model parameterization. Additionally, the integration of empirical and simulation modeling research can improve global outcomes by raising the awareness of which restoration goals can be achieved, due to the quantification of trade-offs and synergies among ecosystem services under a wide range of environmental conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6369-6380
Number of pages12
JournalEcology and Evolution
Volume8
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

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