Restoration ecology

Restoration ecology is the scientific study supporting the practice of ecological restoration, which is the practice of renewing and restoring degraded, damaged, or destroyed ecosystems and habitats in the environment by active human intervention and action.

Natural ecosystems provide ecosystem services in the form of resources such as food, fuel, and timber; the purification of air and water; the detoxification and decomposition of wastes; the regulation of climate; the regeneration of soil fertility; and the pollination of crops. These ecosystem processes have been estimated to be worth trillions of dollars annually.[1][2] There is consensus in the scientific community that the current environmental degradation and destruction of many of the Earth's biota is taking place on a "catastrophically short timescale".[3] Scientists estimate that the current species extinction rate, or the rate of the Holocene extinction, is 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the normal, background rate.[4][5][6] Habitat loss is the leading cause of both species extinctions[6] and ecosystem service decline.[1] Two methods have been identified to slow the rate of species extinction and ecosystem service decline, they are the conservation of currently viable habitat, and the restoration of degraded habitat. The commercial applications of ecological restoration have increased exponentially in recent years.[7] The United Nations General Assembly (01.03.2019) declared 2021 – 2030 the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration [8]

Wetland restoration in Australia
Recently constructed wetland regeneration in Australia, on a site previously used for agriculture
Johnson creek pasture reclamation P2222
Rehabilitation of a portion of Johnson Creek, to restore bioswale and flood control functions of the land which had long been converted to pasture for cow grazing. The horizontal logs can float, but are anchored by the posts. Just-planted trees will eventually stabilize the soil. The fallen trees with roots jutting into the stream are intended to enhance wildlife habitat. The meandering of the stream is enhanced here by a factor of about three times, perhaps to its original course.

Definition

Restoration ecology is the academic study of the process, whereas ecological restoration is the actual project or process by restoration practitioners. The Society for Ecological Restoration defines "ecological restoration" as an "intentional activity that initiates or accelerates the recovery of an ecosystem with respect to its health, integrity and sustainability".[9] Ecological restoration includes a wide scope of projects including erosion control, reforestation, removal of non-native species and weeds, revegetation of disturbed areas, daylighting streams, reintroduction of native species (preferably native species that have local adaptation), and habitat and range improvement for targeted species.

E. O. Wilson, a biologist, states, "Here is the means to end the great extinction spasm. The next century will, I believe, be the era of restoration in ecology."[10]

History

Restoration ecology emerged as a separate field in ecology in the late twentieth century. The term was coined by John Aber and William Jordan III when they were at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[11] However, indigenous peoples, land managers, stewards, and laypeople have been practicing ecological restoration or ecological management for thousands of years.[12]

Considered the birthplace of modern ecological restoration, the first tallgrass prairie restoration was the 1936 Curtis Prairie at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum.[13][11] Civilian Conservation Corps workers replanted nearby prairie species onto a former horse pasture, overseen by university faculty including renowned ecologist Aldo Leopold, botanist Theodore Sperry, mycologist Henry C. Greene, and plant ecologist John T. Curtis. Curtis and his graduate students surveyed the whole of Wisconsin, documenting native species communities and creating the first species lists for tallgrass restorations.[14] Existing prairie remnants, such as locations within pioneer cemeteries and railroad rights-of-way, were located and inventoried by Curtis and his team. The UW Arboretum was the center of tallgrass prairie research through the first half of the 20th century, with the development of the nearby Greene Prairie, Aldo Leopold Shack and Farm, and pioneering techniques like prescribed burning.[13]

The latter-half of the 20th century saw the growth of ecological restoration beyond Wisconsin borders. The 285-hectare Green Oaks Biological Field Station at Knox College began in 1955 under the guidance of zoologist Paul Shepard. It was followed by the 40-hectare Schulenberg Prairie at the Morton Arboretum, started in 1962 by Ray Schulenberg and Bob Betz. Betz then worked with The Nature Conservancy to establish the 260-hectare Fermi National Laboratory tallgrass prairie in 1974.[15] These major tallgrass restoration projects marked the growth of ecological restoration from isolated studies to widespread practice.

Australia has also been the site of historically significant ecological restoration projects. In 1935 Ambrose Crawford commenced restoring a degraded four acres (1.7 hectares) patch of the Big Scrub (Lowland Tropical Rainforest) at Lumley Park reserve, Alstonville, in northern New South Wales. Clearing of weeds and planting of suitable indigenous flora species were his main restoration techniques. The restored rainforest reserve still exists today and is home to threatened plant and animal species. In 1936 Albert Morris and his restoration colleagues initiated the Broken Hill regeneration area project, which involved the natural regeneration of indigenous flora on a severely degraded site of hundreds of hectares in arid western New South Wales. Completed in 1958, the successful project still maintains ecological function today as the Broken Hill Regeneration Area.[16][17]

Theoretical foundations

Restoration ecology draws on a wide range of ecological concepts.

Disturbance

Disturbance is a change in environmental conditions that disrupts the functioning of an ecosystem. Disturbance can occur at a variety of spatial and temporal scales, and is a natural component of many communities.[18] For example, many forest and grassland restorations implement fire as a natural disturbance regime. However the severity and scope of anthropogenic impact has grown in the last few centuries. Differentiating between human-caused and naturally occurring disturbances is important if we are to understand how to restore natural processes and minimize anthropogenic impacts on the ecosystems.

Succession

Ecological succession is the process by which a community changes over time, especially following a disturbance. In many instances, an ecosystem will change from a simple level of organization with a few dominant pioneer species to an increasingly complex community with many interdependent species. Restoration often consists of initiating, assisting, or accelerating ecological successional processes, depending on the severity of the disturbance.[19] Following mild to moderate natural and anthropogenic disturbances, restoration in these systems involves hastening natural successional trajectories through careful management. However, in a system that has experienced a more severe disturbance (such as in urban ecosystems), restoration may require intensive efforts to recreate environmental conditions that favor natural successional processes.[20]

Fragmentation

Habitat fragmentation describes spatial discontinuities in a biological system, where ecosystems are broken up into smaller parts through land use changes (e.g. agriculture) and natural disturbance. This both reduces the size of the populations and increases the degree of isolation. These smaller and isolated populations are more vulnerable to extinction. Fragmenting ecosystems decreases quality of the habitat. The edge of a fragment has a different range of environmental conditions and therefore supports different species than the interior. Restorative projects can increase the effective size of a population by adding suitable habitat and decrease isolation by creating habitat corridors that link isolated fragments. Reversing the effects of fragmentation is an important component of restoration ecology.[21]

Ecosystem function

Ecosystem function describes the most basic and essential foundational processes of any natural systems, including nutrient cycles and energy fluxes. An understanding of the complexity of these ecosystem functions is necessary to address any ecological processes that may be degraded. Ecosystem functions are emergent properties of the system as a whole, thus monitoring and management are crucial for the long-term stability of ecosystems. A fully functional ecosystem that is completely self-perpetuating is the ultimate goal of restorative efforts. We must understand what ecosystem properties influence others to restore desired functions and reach this goal.[22]

Community assembly

Community assembly "is a framework that can unify virtually all of (community) ecology under a single conceptual umbrella".[23] Community assembly theory attempts to explain the existence of environmentally similar sites with differing assemblages of species. It assumes that species have similar niche requirements, so that community formation is a product of random fluctuations from a common species pool.[24] Essentially, if all species are fairly ecologically equivalent, then random variation in colonization, and migration and extinction rates between species, drive differences in species composition between sites with comparable environmental conditions.

Population genetics

Genetic diversity has shown to be as important as species diversity for restoring ecosystem processes.[25] Hence ecological restorations are increasingly factoring genetic processes into management practices. Population genetic processes that are important to consider in restored populations include founder effects, inbreeding depression, outbreeding depression, genetic drift, and gene flow. Such processes can predict whether or not a species successfully establishes at a restoration site.[26][27]

Applications

Soil heterogeneity effects on community heterogeneity

Spatial heterogeneity of resources can influence plant community composition, diversity, and assembly trajectory. Baer et al. (2005) manipulated soil resource heterogeneity in a tallgrass prairie restoration project. They found increasing resource heterogeneity, which on its own was insufficient to insure species diversity in situations where one species may dominate across the range of resource levels. Their findings were consistent with the theory regarding the role of ecological filters on community assembly. The establishment of a single species, best adapted to the physical and biological conditions can play an inordinately important role in determining the community structure.[28]

Invasion and restoration

Restoration is used as a tool for reducing the spread of invasive plant species in a number of ways. The first method views restoration primarily as a means to reduce the presence of invasive species and limit their spread. As this approach emphasizes control of invaders, the restoration techniques can differ from typical restoration projects.[29][30] The goal of such projects is not necessarily to restore an entire ecosystem or habitat.[31] These projects frequently use lower diversity mixes of aggressive native species seeded at high density.[32] They are not always actively managed following seeding.[33] The target areas for this type of restoration are those which are heavily dominated by invasive species. The goals are to first remove the species and then in so doing, reduce the number of invasive seeds being spread to surrounding areas. An example of this is through use of biological control agents (such as herbivorous insects) which suppress invasive weed species while restoration practitioners concurrently seed in native plant species that take advantage of the freed resources.[34] These approaches have been shown to be effective in reducing weeds, although it is not always a sustainable solution long term without additional weed control, such as mowing, or re-seeding.[30][33][35][36]

Restoration projects are also used as a way to better understand what makes an ecological community resistant to invasion. As restoration projects have a broad range of implementation strategies and methods used to control invasive species, they can be used by ecologists to test theories about invasion.[33] Restoration projects have been used to understand how the diversity of the species introduced in the restoration affects invasion. We know that generally higher diversity prairies have lower levels of invasion.[37] Incorporation of functional ecology has shown that more functionally diverse restorations have lower levels of invasion.[38] Furthermore, studies have shown that using native species functionally similar to invasive species are better able to compete with invasive species.[39][40] Restoration ecologists have also used the variety of strategies employed at different restoration sites to better understand the most successful management techniques to control invasion.[41]

Successional trajectories

Progress along a desired successional pathway may be difficult if multiple stable states exist. Looking over 40 years of wetland restoration data, Klötzli and Gootjans (2001) argue that unexpected and undesired vegetation assemblies "may indicate that environmental conditions are not suitable for target communities".[42] Succession may move in unpredicted directions, but constricting environmental conditions within a narrow range may rein in the possible successional trajectories and increase the likelihood of a desired outcome.

Sourcing material for restoration

For most restoration projects it is generally recommend to source material from local populations, to increase chance of restoration success and minimize the effects of maladaptation.[43] However the definition of local can vary based on species. habitat and region.[44] US Forest Service recently developed provisional seed zones based on a combination of minimum winter temperature zones, aridity, and the Level III ecoregions.[45] Rather than putting strict distance recommendations, other guidelines recommend sourcing seeds to match similar environmental conditions. For example, sourcing for Castilleja levisecta found that farther source populations that matched similar environmental variables were better suited for the restoration project than closer source populations.[46]

Principles

Regenerated habitat for superb parrot on the abandoned Boorowa railway line
Ecosystem restoration for the superb parrot on an abandoned railway line in Australia

Rationale

There are many reasons to restore ecosystems. Some include:

  • Restoring natural capital such as drinkable water or wildlife populations
  • Mitigating climate change (e.g. through carbon sequestration)
  • Helping threatened or endangered species[47]
  • Aesthetic reasons [48]
  • Moral reasons: human intervention has unnaturally destroyed many habitats, and there exists an innate obligation to restore these destroyed habitats
  • Regulated use/harvest, particularly for subsistence[49]
  • Cultural relevance of native ecosystems to Native people[49][50]
  • Environmental health of nearby populations [51]
Restoration in action at Buffelsdraai
Forest restoration in action at the Buffelsdraai Landfill Site Community Reforestation Project in South Africa

There exist considerable differences of opinion in how to set restoration goals and how to define their success among conservation groups. Some urge active restoration (e.g. eradicating invasive animals to allow the native ones to survive) and others who believe that protected areas should have the bare minimum of human interference, such as rewilding. Ecosystem restoration has generated controversy. Skeptics doubt that the benefits justify the economic investment or who point to failed restoration projects and question the feasibility of restoration altogether. It can be difficult to set restoration goals, in part because, as Anthony Bradshaw claims, "ecosystems are not static, but in a state of dynamic equilibrium…. [with restoration] we aim [for a] moving target."

Some conservationists argue that, though an ecosystem may not be returned to its original state, the functions of the ecosystem (especially ones that provide services to us) may be more valuable in its current configuration (Bradshaw 1987). This is especially true in cases where the ecosystem services are central to the physical and cultural survival of human populations, as is the case with many Native groups in the United States and other communities around the world who subsist using ecological services and environmental resources.[49] One reason to consider ecosystem restoration is to mitigate climate change through activities such as afforestation. Afforestation involves replanting forests, which remove carbon dioxide from the air. Carbon dioxide is a leading cause of global warming (Speth, 2005) and capturing it would help alleviate climate change. Another example of a common driver of restoration projects in the United States is the legal framework of the Clean Water Act, which often requires mitigation for damage inflicted on aquatic systems by development or other activities.[52]

Restored Prairie at the West Eugene Wetlands (8745659774)
Restored prairie at the West Eugene Wetlands in Eugene, Oregon.

Challenges

Some view ecosystem restoration as impractical, partially because restorations often fall short of their goals. Hilderbrand et al. point out that many times uncertainty (about ecosystem functions, species relationships, and such) is not addressed, and that the time-scales set out for 'complete' restoration are unreasonably short, while other critical markers for full-scale restoration are either ignored or abridged due to feasibility concerns.[53] In other instances an ecosystem may be so degraded that abandonment (allowing a severely degraded ecosystem to recover on its own) may be the wisest option.[54] Local communities sometimes object to restorations that include the introduction of large predators or plants that require disturbance regimes such as regular fires, citing threat to human habitation in the area.[55] High economic costs can also be perceived as a negative impact of the restoration process.

Public opinion is very important in the feasibility of a restoration; if the public believes that the costs of restoration outweigh the benefits they will not support it.[55]

Many failures have occurred in past restoration projects, many times because clear goals were not set out as the aim of the restoration, or an incomplete understanding of the underlying ecological framework lead to insufficient measures. This may be because, as Peter Alpert says, "people may not [always] know how to manage natural systems effectively".[56] Furthermore, many assumptions are made about myths of restoration such as carbon copy, where a restoration plan, which worked in one area, is applied to another with the same results expected, but not realized.[53]

Science-practice gap

One of the struggles for both fields is a divide between restoration ecology and ecological restoration in practice. Many restoration practitioners as well as scientists feel that science is not being adequately incorporated into ecological restoration projects.[57][58][59][60] In a 2009 survey of practitioners and scientists, the "science-practice gap" was listed as the second most commonly cited reason limiting the growth of both science and practice of restoration.

There are a variety of theories about the cause of this gap. However, it has been well established that one of the main issues is that the questions studied by restoration ecologists are frequently not found useful or easily applicable by land managers.[57][61] For instance, many publications in restoration ecology characterize the scope of a problem in depth, without providing concrete solutions.[61] Additionally many restoration ecology studies are carried out under controlled conditions and frequently at scales much smaller than actual restorations.[33] Whether or not these patterns hold true in an applied context is often unknown. There is evidence that these small-scale experiments inflate type II error rates and differ from ecological patterns in actual restorations.[62][63]

There is further complication in that restoration ecologists who want to collect large-scale data on restoration projects can face enormous hurdles in obtaining the data. Managers vary in how much data they collect, and how many records they keep. Some agencies keep only a handful of physical copies of data that make it difficult for the researcher to access.[64] Many restoration projects are limited by time and money, so data collection and record keeping are not always feasible.[58] However, this limits the ability of scientists to analyze restoration projects and give recommendations based on empirical data.

Contrasting restoration ecology and conservation biology

Restoration ecology may be viewed as a sub-discipline of conservation biology, the scientific study of how to protect and restore biodiversity. Ecological restoration is then a part of the resulting conservation movement.

Both restoration ecologists and conservation biologists agree that protecting and restoring habitat is important for protecting biodiversity. However, conservation biology is primarily rooted in population biology. Because of that, it is generally organized at the population genetic level and assesses specific species populations (i.e. endangered species). Restoration ecology is organized at the community level, which focuses on broader groups within ecosystems.[65]

In addition, conservation biology often concentrates on vertebrate animals because of their salience and popularity, whereas restoration ecology concentrates on plants. Restoration ecology focuses on plants because restoration projects typically begin by establishing plant communities. Ecological restoration, despite being focused on plants, may also have "poster species" for individual ecosystems and restoration projects.[65] For example, the Monarch butterfly is a poster species for conserving and restoring milkweed plant habitat, because Monarch butterflies require milkweed plants to reproduce. Finally, restoration ecology has a stronger focus on soils, soil structure, fungi, and microorganisms because soils provide the foundation of functional terrestrial ecosystems.[66][67]

Natural Capital Committee's recommendation for a 25-year plan

The UK Natural Capital Committee (NCC) made a recommendation in its second State of Natural Capital report published in March 2014 that in order to meet the Government's goal of being the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than it was inherited, a long-term 25-year plan was needed to maintain and improve England's natural capital. The UK Government has not yet responded to this recommendation.

The Secretary of State for the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson, described his ambition for the natural environment and how the work of the Committee fits into this at an NCC event in November 2012: "I do not, however, just want to maintain our natural assets; I want to improve them. I want us to derive the greatest possible benefit from them, while ensuring that they are available for generations to come. This is what the NCC's innovative work is geared towards".[68]

Related journals

See also

References

Notes

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Ardill, Peter J. (2017) Albert Morris and the Broken Hill regeneration area: time, landscape and renewal. Australian Association of Bush Regenerators (AABR). Sydney. http://www.aabr.org.au/morris-broken-hill/
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External links

Applied ecology

Applied ecology is a subfield within ecology, which considers the application of the science of ecology to real-world (usually management) questions. It is an integrated treatment of the ecological, social, and biotechnological aspects of natural resource conservation and management. It is also called ecological or environmental technology. Applied ecology typically focuses on geomorphology, soils, and plant communities as the underpinnings for vegetation and wildlife (both game and non-game) management.

Aspects of applied ecology include:

Agro-ecosystem management

Biodiversity conservation

Biotechnology

Conservation biology

Ecosystem restoration

Habitat management

Invasive species management

Protected areas management

Rangeland management

Restoration ecologyMajor journals in the field include:

Journal of Applied Ecology

Ecological Applications

Applied Ecology and Environmental ResearchRelated organizations include:

Ecological Society of America (The Americas)

Society for Ecological Restoration (Global)

Institute for Applied Ecology (USA)

Kazakh Agency of Applied Ecology

Öko-Institut (Institute for Applied Ecology) (in Germany)

Bushy Park (New Zealand)

Bushy Park is a forest located on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand, at 791 Rangitatau East Road, 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from Kai Iwi, Whanganui, Manawatu-Wanganui Region. It features an Edwardian-era homestead, Bushy Park Homestead, which is a Category I heritage building registered with Heritage New Zealand, a predator-free native bird sanctuary, and a virgin rainforest. It measures approximately 100 hectares (250 acres), and is characterized as a "lowland remnant of rata-podocarp taka-puketea [sic] rainforest". According to Forest & Bird, Bushy Park is considered to be amongst the 25 best restoration ecology projects in Australia and New Zealand.

Conservation and Society

Conservation and Society is a quarterly, open-access, peer-reviewed, academic journal covering political ecology, human–wildlife conflicts, decentralised conservation, conservation policy, ecosystem structure and functioning, systematics, community and species ecology, behavioural ecology, landscape ecology, restoration ecology, and conservation biology. The editor-in-chief is Kamaljit Bawa (University of Massachusetts Amherst). The journal was established in 2003 and published biannually until 2005. Conservation and Society is published by Medknow Publications on behalf of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, headquartered in Bangalore, India.

Dead hedge

A dead hedge is a barrier constructed from cut branches, saplings, and foliage. The material can be from pruning, clearing, or forestry activities. Their succession is a beetle bank or hedge.

Ecosynthesis

see Planetary ecosynthesis for Terraforming

Ecosynthesis is the use of introduced species to fill niches in a disrupted environment, with the aim of increasing the speed of ecological restoration. This decreases the amount of physical damage done in a disrupted landscape. An example is using willow in a stream corridor for sediment and phosphorus capture. It aims to aid ecological restoration which, is the practice of renewing and restoring degraded, damaged, or destroyed ecosystems and habitats in the environment by active human intervention and action. Humans ecosynthesis to make environments more suitable for life, through restoration ecology (introduced species, vegetation mapping, habitat enhancement, remediation and mitigation.)

Hamilton Ecological District

Hamilton Ecological District is part of the Waikato Ecological Region in New Zealand's North Island. It occupies the Hamilton basin and surrounding foothills, and has been heavily modified with less than two percent of its indigenous vegetation remaining. This location has been studied significantly including the process of restoration ecology.C. Michael Hogan has classified the undisturbed portions of the woodland area as a beech and podocarp forest with associate understory ferns being Blechnum filiforme, Asplenium flaccidum, Doodia media, Hymenophyllum demissum, Microsorum pustulatum and Microsorum scandens, and some prominent associate shrubs being Olearia ranii and Alseuosmia quercifolia.

Jarrah Forest

Jarrah Forest is an interim Australian bioregion located in Western Australia. The Jarrah Forest comprises reserves across the south-west corner of WA and is managed for uses including recreation. There are many small areas of parkland while larger protected areas include the Dryandra Woodland, Lane-Poole Reserve, and the Perup Forest Ecology Centre. Also managed for land uses such as water, timber and mineral production, recreation and conservation, the forest is recognised globally as a significant hotspot of plant biodiversity and endemism.

John Aber

John D. Aber is professor of Natural Resources & the Environment at the University of New Hampshire, and is also affiliated with the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space at UNH.

Joy Zedler

Joy Buswell Zedler (born 1943) is an American ecologist and professor of botany at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW), holding the title of Aldo Leopold Chair of Restoration Ecology. In addition to restoration ecology, she specializes in the ecology of wetlands, rare species, interactions between native and introduced species, and adaptive management.

Managed retreat

In the context of coastal erosion, managed retreat (also managed realignment) allows an area that was not previously exposed to flooding by the sea to become flooded by removing coastal protection. This process is usually in low-lying estuarine areas and almost always involves flooding of land that has at some point in the past been claimed from the sea.

In the UK, managed retreat is often a response to sea level rise exacerbated by local subsidence of the land surface due to post-glacial isostatic rebound in the north.

Micro-irrigation

Micro-irrigation, also called localised irrigation, low volume irrigation, low-flow irrigation, or trickle irrigation is an irrigation method with lower pressure and flow than a traditional sprinkler system. Low volume irrigation is used in agriculture for row crops, orchards, and vineyards. It is also used in horticulture in wholesale nurseries, in landscaping for civic, commercial, and private landscapes and gardens, and in the science and practice of restoration ecology and environmental remediation.

Prairie remnant

A prairie remnant commonly refers to grassland areas in the Western and Midwestern United States and Canada that remain to some extent undisturbed by European settlement. Prairie remnants range in levels of degradation but nearly all contain at least some semblance of the pre-Columbian local plant assemblage of a particular region. Prairie remnants have become increasingly threatened due to the threats of agricultural, urban and suburban development, pollution, fire suppression, and the incursion of invasive species.

Society for Ecological Restoration

The Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) is a conservation organization based in the United States, supporting a "global community of restoration professionals that includes researchers, practitioners, decision-makers, and community leaders". The organization was founded in 1988. The mission of the organization is to: "advance the science, practice and policy of ecological restoration to sustain biodiversity, improve resilience in a changing climate, and re-establish an ecologically healthy relationship between nature and culture."SER produces definitions and standards for the practice of ecological restoration, including the SER International Primer on Ecological Restoration (2004), International Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration (2016), and a certification program for professionals: Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner (CERP).

Soil regeneration

Soil regeneration as a particular form of ecological regeneration within the field of restoration ecology is the act or idea of replenishing the Earth's soil with beneficial nutrients (including carbon) using natural methods. The focus—building soil health—has many benefits, both proven and theorized, including the soil sequestration of carbon in response to a growing threat of climate change.

Soil seed bank

The soil seed bank is the natural storage of seeds, often dormant, within the soil of most ecosystems. The study of soil seed banks started in 1859 when Charles Darwin observed the emergence of seedlings using soil samples from the bottom of a lake. The first scientific paper on the subject was published in 1882 and reported on the occurrence of seeds at different soil depths. Weed seed banks have been studied intensely in agricultural science because of their important economic impacts; other fields interested in soil seed banks include forest regeneration and restoration ecology.

Stephen Packard

Stephen Packard (1943–) is an American conservationist, author, and ecological restoration practitioner active in the Chicago area.

Packard began his career in restoration ecology in 1977 as a volunteer with the "North Branch Prairie Project" in Cook County, Illinois. The project is now known as the North Branch Restoration Project. In 1978, he became a field representative for the Illinois Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC-Illinois). From 1983-1999, he was the Director of Science and Stewardship for TNC-Illinois. Packard founded the Audubon Chicago Region chapter in 1999 and worked for this organization until 2014. The chapter has since expanded to encompass the Great Lakes region and is now known as Audubon Great Lakes. Between 2008 and 2013 he taught "Science and Policy of Ecological Conservation" at Northwestern University.Stephen Packard is a founding member/contributor to Society for Ecological Restoration, TNC's Volunteer Stewardship Network, Chicago Wilderness and its "Mighty Acorns" program, Friends of the Forest Preserves, and the Wild Things conference. He sits on the national advisory board for Wild Ones.

He serves as a volunteer land steward for the Forest Preserves of Cook County's Somme Prairie Grove.

Steve Donnellan (scientist)

Steve C. Donnellan is the Chief Research Scientist of the Evolutionary Biology Unit at the South Australian Museum. He is also an Affiliate Professor at the University of Adelaide. Donnellan moved from New South Wales to South Australia in 1985 to undertake research recovering the evolutionary history of Australia's lizards. This work led to the establishment of a comprehensive collection of reptile and frog tissues from Australia and New Guinea. In 1990 Donnellan joined the South Australian Museum's staff and established the DNA laboratory there. His research since has focused on the evolution and biogeography of Australasian fauna. Donnellan has used molecular genetic methods to examine issues in the population genetics, phylogeography and phylogenetic relationships of vertebrates and selected invertebrate groups. Many of his research projects have been supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC). His work has been published in numerous scientific journals, including Biological Conservation, Evolution, International Journal for Parasitology, PLOS One, Restoration Ecology, Zoologica Scripta and Zootaxa.

Steven Handel

Steven Handel is a restoration ecologist. For two decades, he has researched, designed, and overseen the restoration of damaged parts of the environment such as landfills, brown fields, and strip mines, restoring them to native woodlands, meadows, areas which support native plants and animals, and parklands.Handel is the director of the Center for Urban Restoration Ecology (CURE), an academic unit at Rutgers.

He was the lead ecologist for the Orange County Great Park restoration in California and is working on the Fresh Kills landfill project in New York. His other projects include the Brooklyn Bridge Park, The Duke Farms Foundation holdings in New Jersey, the landscape for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and a public park in Dublin.He is a Distinguished professor of ecology, evolution, and natural resources at Rutgers University. At Harvard, he is a Visiting Professor in the Graduate School of Design.

Much of his restoration work is done in collaboration with his graduate students. Previously he was a Professor of Biology and director of the Marsh Botanic Garden at Yale University.In 2009 and in 2015, he received the National Honor Award for Research from the American Society of Landscape Architects. In 2013 he was awarded the Theodore Sperry Award by the Society for Ecological Restoration. This is their highest research award, only given every other year.

The Wetlands Initiative

The Wetlands Initiative (TWI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation based in Chicago, Illinois, United States. Founded in 1992, the Wetlands Initiative works with nonprofit and government partners, and with local communities, to restore wetlands in the Chicago Wilderness region, and in the Midwest at large. TWI focuses on the application of restoration ecology in the field, returning former farmland and degraded natural sites to ecological health.

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Restoration
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