Posts tagged restoration ecology

Oct 10 2013

Constructing Future Nature: Ethical conundrums in the design of ecosystems

Organizer/Moderator: Alex Felson

 Ben Minteer, Arizona State University: The Fall of the Wild? The Ecological Ethics of Preservation, Restoration, and Design in the Anthropocene.     

 Eric Higgs, University of Victoria, Australia: Back to a future landscape: prospects for ecological restoration.

Alex Felson, Yale University: Shaping ecosystems through ecological land planning and research-based design.   

Joy Zedler, University of Wisconsin: Embracing uncertainty: Looking back while planning ahead.



Humans are negatively impacting ecosystems locally and changing global climates. This generates a need not only to restore impaired ecosystems but to construct new ecosystems that are resilient and sustainable within a changing environment. As the demand for constructed ecosystems expands, restoration ecologists, along with other applied ecologists, are poised to address the challenge of reclaiming and restoring degraded, damaged and destroyed ecosystems and to serve as critical players in shaping the ecosystems of the future. Yet the base assumptions that have guided the field of restoration ecology for decades, including the reliance on historical reference sites in an effort to return habitats to pre-disturbance conditions, are being questioned. Restoration ecologists are obliged to reconsider how to model future ecosystems.  They face ethical challenges associated with defining the appropriateness of native versus non-native species in urbanized landscapes. For example, should wildlife habitat preservation and enhancement or public access be valued more in urban parkland? Should ecologists assist in facilitating the migration of plant and animal communities affected by global warming?


This symposium will explore possible roles for restoration ecologists in defining and establishing ecosystems of the future particularly in suburban areas or urbanized coasts. It will examine the ethical, cultural, and functional challenges of constructing ecosystems.  Topics include: engaging the public through outreach and education; situating restoration projects in urbanized landscapes; integrating technology, research and design into restoration projects; and responding to shifting understandings of environmental responsibility in an era of rapid environmental change.

Nov 27 2012

Man-made salt marshes fail to meet European demands on plants-study

Artificial salt marshes did not perform as well as natural ones based on a study by Mossman et al. 2012. Does managed coastal realignment create saltmarshes with ‘equivalent biological characteristics’ to natural reference sites?  Journal of Applied Ecology. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2012.02198.x

These results challenge the argument that mitigation is a valuable means of compensating for wetland removal.  These are not exhibiting “equivalent biological characteristics.”

The team studied 18 artificial salt marshes in England and found less divers marshland with many marsh plants (e.g. sea lavender, sea arrowgrass or sea plantain)   under-represented compared to natural marshes. 17 accidentally created salt marshes were similarly lacking in plant variety.

Dec 24 2011