4 - IJMEC-Vol.02-No.03页


Intl. J. of Mol. Ecol. and Conserv. 2012, Vol. 2, No.3, 15-20
A Report Open Access
The Ecological Processes that Underpin Ecological Restoration
Tawanda Tarakini
, Xingxing Liang
1. Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT, Leeds, UK
2. Department of Wildlife and Safari Management, Chinhoyi University of Technology, Bag 7724 Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe
Corresponding author email:
International Journal of Molecular Ecology and Conservation, 2012, Vol.2, No.3 doi: 10.5376/ijmec.2012.02.0003
Received: 04 Jun., 2012
Accepted: 10 Jul., 2012
Published: 20 Jul., 2012
This is an open access article published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and
reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Preferred citation for this article:
Tarakini and Liang, 2012, The Ecological Processes that Underpin Ecological Restoration, International Journal of Molecular Ecology and Conservation, Vol.2,
No.3 (doi: 10.5376/ijmec.2012.02.0003)
The science of restoration ecology is closely linked to ecological knowledge and practical restoration principles are often
heavily guided by ecology theory. Knowing that there are sections in community theory that are currently poorly understood, it might
be dangerous if restoration principles are based on what science offers for these sections. The need to focus on dispersal, disturbance,
colonization and succession dynamics is particularly important since many of our project sites are highly degraded and disjointed
from a healthy regional pool of colonists. In this article, the importance of these major ecological theories and how relevant they are
in restorations today are evaluated. Restoration work is set to bring not only corrections in functionality and community structure of
degraded systems but also benefiting basic research in community ecology.
Colonisation; Dispersal; Disturbance; Ecological restoration; Succession
Probably the most conclusive definition of restoration
is captured in Jordan et al (1987) and SER (2004) as
an intentional activity that initiates or accelerates the
recovery of an ecosystem with respect to its health,
integrity and sustainability returning to a system
which is a close approximation of its condition prior
to disturbance. In most cases, disturbance is caused by
humans, although impacts to ecosystems may be
caused or aggravated by natural agencies (e.g. wildfire,
floods, storms), such that an ecosystem cannot recover
its pre-disturbance state or its historic developmental
trajectory (SER, 2004). Restoration involves removing/
modifying a specific disturbance, and allowing
ecological processes to bring about an independent
recovery in the process (SER, 2004). Planning for
fundamentally based on conceptual or theoretical
models of nature (Naveh, 1994) and restorations are
aimed at assisting or initiating recovery, in contrast to
ecosystem management where people work to
guarantee the continued well-being of an ecosystem
(Young, 2000).
From the early 1980s, restoration ecology has evolved
searching ways to improve conceptual basis, for
example from succession theory, community
assemblage rules, threshold dynamics, state transitions
and differentiation of niches (Suding and Hobbs,
2009). There are still a lot of knowledge gaps in
ecology that should raise concerns about which
principles should be used in restoration, and the
current work are my opinions to this debate. There is
need for pluralism in approaches to studies of
communities, and restoration ecology may provide an
ideal way of demonstrating how pluralistic approaches
can bridge the knowledge gaps in natural and
managed communities (Jordan et al., 1987). A
reference ecosystem might be needed to have a model
for planning an ecological restoration project, and
later serve in the evaluation of that project (Palmer et
al., 1997). There is considerable evidence that a
feedback exists between species composition and
ecosystem processes and that many ecosystem
processes will develop over different time scales
(Palmer et al., 1997). This means that restoration in
practice may involve the setting of sequential,
multi-step goals like: restore desired community
structure, monitor the development and verify that
linkages between community structure and function