Assessing the success of ecological restoration strategies using plant functional traits
There is land all over the world that is undergoing ecological restoration, the process of rebuilding and maintaining the abundance, diversity, structure and processes of ecosystems. Each of these projects is unique in their environmental conditions, land-use history, current human impact, restoration method and local species pool.
As a result, the study and practice of restoration is site and species specific, and findings can rarely be confidently transferred across sites and regions. We need a common language to link these sites, allowing us to create unifying theories and guidelines for restoration, a major step in developing the theory and practice of restoration ecology.
One contender for this common language is plant functional traits. These are characteristics connected to a plants’ pattern of establishment, growth and resource allocation, from root system type to seed size. They are independent of taxa and are directly linked to the environment making the results comparable across different systems and species.
In my PhD I'm looking at whether plant functional traits can be the common language that links restoration projects, and specifically, a language we can use to understand species and restoration project success.
- I'll be asking if we can use plant traits to predict how a species will fare in restoration projects that differ in environmental conditions, land-use history, human impact and restoration method?
- Does trait diversity correlate with restoration project success?
- And does abundance of certain traits in a restored population increase project success?
Primary Supervisor: Associate Professor Stephen Bonser
Co-supervisor: Dr David Eldridge