Artificial Habitats and Ecosystem Restoration: Managing for the Future
Abstract:Restoration ecology is an emerging field focused on recovering and reinvesting ecological capital now being quickly spent by humanity, principally in habitat alteration. There is presently great confusion about what constitutes ecosystem restoration. Despite belief in the plasticity of nature, damaged ecosystems are not self-renewing, and the several options available to managers charged with restoring damaged systems range from re-creation of the original ecosystem to construction of entirely new, alternative ecosystems. The creation of artificial reefs and a range of other activities now called “reclamation” fall within this range. Several ecological factors constrain the probable success of habitat management and restoration. Biotic communities are dynamic. Colonization, followed by succession, results in changing species compositions and biotic functions. Any artificial habitat will accumulate species, but these species may not be those desired nor may desired species persist for long periods. Predicting the success of artificial habitat management is fundamentally simple. Desired and necessary species must be available to colonize the new habitat. Management capability must be available to monitor community development and take appropriate action, based on fundamental science, when needed, Management may be limited to rehabilitating a limited set of ecological characteristics or to enhancing particular ecological functions which are of benefit to human society (i.e., ecological services).
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: September 1, 1994
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