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both documentary and natural archives can provide records of environmental variables and ecosystem properties in many parts of the world. 1783. Restoration targets in the “New Worlds” of the Americas. written descriptions.org 567 Downloaded from www. from simple hunting/harvesting to fire management and direct vegetation alteration (8–11). which may instead comprise cultural landscapes (16.000 years (23. and so too have the targets. Ecological restoration efforts should aim to conserve and restore historical ecosystems where viable. Despite these complications. what has been.T. systematic monitoring of ecosystems.. Ecosystems of even the recent past may be unsustainable under an early 21st-century climate. 17). when droughts and consequent fine-fuel reduction led to reduction of surface fires. and Africa..).000 years are now available for much of the globe. most densely in glaciated terrain but also in many other regions (21. where alternative targets must be considered. *To whom correspondence should be addressed. and sediments of lakes. ecological history also reveals deep human imprints on many ecological systems and indicates that secular climate change has kept many targets moving at centennial to millennial time scales. climate has changed in the past 500 years. 18–20). The past 20. To facilitate the recovery of degraded or damaged ecosystems.E. oceans. owing to natural causes and more recently to human activities (13). Paleoecological and paleoenvironmental records spanning the last 10. Finally.to 3rd-century Roman settlers in France (14. A key task for the future will be to determine where this remains viable and. knowledge of the state of the original ecosystem and what happened to it is invaluable. and cultural eutrophication).edu. dominated by mesic forest. and Oceania are identified as the “natural” states existing at the time of European discovery and conquest. agriculture. tree-rings. Fortunately. whether deeply degraded or nearly pristine.sciencemag. acid rain.g. Asia. rodent middens.000 years witnessed a transition from a glacial to an interglacial world. the notion of “natural” is being redefined based on increasing awareness that pre-European native cultures often exerted substantial influence on ecosystems. but few terrestrial or estuarine ecosystems escaped some effects of human activity.org on July 18. These legacies include extinctions (moas. However. together with observational. and modeling studies.uwa. rhobbs@cyllene. grazing. 1.to 19th-century English settlers in Massachusetts and 2nd.000 to 20. Crawley. can identify factors that prevent spontaneous or assisted ecosystem recovery once the obvious factors have been eliminated or mitigated.SPECIAL SECTION PERSPECTIVE Ecological Restoration in the Light of Ecological History Stephen T. mastodons) and industrial activities (brownfields.au (R. WY 82071. experimental.g. Few major terrestrial ecosystems have existed in situ for more than the past 12. predisturbance restoration targets remain worthy goals in many contexts.) Fig. University of Western Australia. more subtle human imprints are being revealed. with numerous climatic excursions throughout. However. The Big Woods (Minnesota) landscape. T. Ecological history plays a straightforward role in these applications in identifying the natural state of the landscape and constituent ecosystems (2–4). E-mail: Jackson@uwyo. historical photographs. Paleoecology. some arising only within the past few centuries (24). and intensity of these impacts varied widely in space and time (10. On Nature (1) cological restoration is rooted in ecological history. Restoration ecology looks to ecological history as a means of identifying appropriate restoration targets—the state of the ecosystem before disruption—and assessing sources of damage (e. 15). [Photo: S. The nature. Moreover. First.edu (S. perhaps the most natural feature of the world in which we find ourselves is its continual flux. Every terrestrial locale has been occupied by a series of ecosystems— often contrasting in structure and function—since the . ranging from documentary sources (e. has never yet been. was savanna and prairie until about 1300 C. and estuaries). WA 6009. Restoration ecologists are forced to assess ecological history by indirect means. conversely. fire suppression. USA. allowing tree invasion and expansion (27). human activities leave ecological legacies that may be difficult or impossible to override in restoration. Past and ongoing environmental changes ensure that many historical restoration targets will be unsustainable in the coming decades. and most are considerably younger. not all of them comforting. 22). Historical studies will remain valuable in determining ecosystem structure and function before disruption (2–5) and in assessing the nature and timing of ecosystem responses to disruptions (4–9. undisturbed landscapes are too remote in time to provide restoration targets. minelands).J. Laramie.. Deeper consideration of ecological history is leading to revision of this approach. restoration to a historic standard is anachronistic. environmental and ecological changes are normal. just before disruptions associated with land clearance. maps. duration. and wildfire control.g.” –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. while simultaneously preparing to design or steer emerging novel ecosystems to ensure maintenance of ecological goods and services. Australia. and paintings) to paleoecological records from natural archives (e. rarely spans more than the past few decades..J. Jackson1* and Richard J. 24). most notably as a tool to identify and characterize appropriate targets for restoration efforts. Second. 12). Australia.H. “[Nature] is ever shaping new forms: what is. Hobbs2* Ecological history plays many roles in ecological restoration. 2011 pre-Columbian Amazon (12) and soil-nutrient mosaics dating to 17th. For many ecosystems. including the range of variability in disturbance and other properties (5–7). that is. For many parts of Europe. The environment has drifted. 2School of Plant Biology. peatlands. Jackson] SCIENCE VOL 325 31 JULY 2009 www. comes not again.sciencemag. including the terra preta soils of the E 1 Department of Botany and Program in Ecology. First. University of Wyoming. These records provide important perspectives for restoration.
Ruffner. involving conintervention required gether with modeling. determining how far existing systems have (1998). alternative “natural” states. 2002). B. Bioscience 53. Natural Landscape (Island Press. Burney.quired levels of intervention. 9. A. Knapp. let always coming and going. for change. L. standing of how novel and engineered ecosystems 13.for most novel or engineered systems. including aesthetic values. multiple ecological realizations are natural. owing to historical con. for mosaics of historic and engineered ecosystems. R. Ecological restoration finds new moor. Science 293.than those we seek to solve. Conserv. Does References and Notes Time ecological history render ecological resto1. ings in emphasizing restoration of ecosys. J. Paleoclimatology. 74. going and often inevitable development of indicate costs of restoration to the approximate historic state. Mauquoy. 36. Cronin. 22. historic ecosystems may minimize the risk of ogy with conventional “forward monitoring” and entire Quaternary (25). 3 C engineer ecosystems successfully. Third. ecosystems in 20. D. Fire. D. 27). change and ecological novelty. E. then the premises Low underlying ecological restoration to a hisThen Now Future toric standard come under question. a multitude of ecological realizations ingly anachronistic nature of historical targets. Environ 5. W.ncdc. realizations are normal. in Climate Change 2007: The Physical In many cases. E. D. T. at which existing ecosystems will be unsustainable. R. 308 (2001). S. 17. Foster. J. invasive species.ever. Wetlands Ecol. 2011 Degree of change from historical system . D. physical environment and species pool). Press. 1430 (2007). and ecological change and to intervene in ways that meantime.g. M. L.noaa. Ecosystems 4. Aber. New Haven. E. 321 (1999). F. paleoecological studies will continue to reveal past ecosystem realizations tingencies affecting species migration. (Yale Univ. they ing the status of. tocases are not always subtle. ecologists increasingly recognize the on(1). Bush. Naveh. Paleoecological insights.mental studies inform our understanding of existing arise and dissolve as the environment changes. 140. Science Basis. 2. J. extinctions. J. must be embraced insofar as environmental change is varying states of alteration (Fig. S. ecosystem or landscape configuration exists for any This presents a seeming paradox. For trajectory 3.Restoration Ecology Paleoecology will play important roles in all of last glacial period. Dotted lines Ecol. E. Native Peoples. Environ 5. vasions. site and their properties at local. Cambridge. Many such ecosystems will be contingent they are sustainable (28. and the Press. Restoration efforts emphasize managing value in terms of ecosystem services (C). These observations have the potential Prohibitive the more time we purchase by slowing the for setting restoration ecology adrift from 2 rates of global change in all its dimensions.represent realistic interventions for each trajectory. H. N. Translation by T. R. 28). or capricious as these ecosystems may seem.. B. tained (7. 629 suring that desirable ecological goods and drifted from these historic states. How. Ed. and other global-change virtually all natural ecosystems. R. C. Ecol. Front. A. 385 and interventions are directed toward en. ration “quaint”? 11. indicating degree of change from the historic 483 (2007). J. Black. Restor. climate change. 2145 (2007). CT. rapid environmental change renders not only on scientific and societal judgments but also 17. S. the paleoecological making things worse. Jackson. Allen. Sci. but community as. ecosystem (e. Millar. may have combinations of species that have never co. other At the same time. If natIntensive cessful adaptation. and immigrations (26). and altered biogeochemical cycles (28. 17. B. land-use legacies. L. given the increas. if the environment global change will outpace our scientific is always changing and ecosystems are A capacity to prescribe adaptive strategies.sciencemag. High observation. 14. Second. gauging the range with differing structure and function.. G. 30). C. ver. Vale. our understand. Schelske et al. P. T. 2821 (2007). Glob. Daniell. J. M. 309 (2004). its moorings in notions of objectively idenB the more we increase our capacity for suctifiable natural states of ecosystems. 2004). A. on particular combinations of climate events..sciencemag. 8. M. (Cambridge Univ. R. Jones. Betancourt. Abrams. and colonization. Foster et al. Paleoecology can help assess Ecol. Jansen et al.org on July 18. and restore historical ecosystems should be con.org Downloaded from www. occurred. E. Foster. W. Appl. Schindler. Webb III. 192 (2005). we can diagnose the point(s) record provides numerous case studies of multiple. Eds. Front. change. Silman. Motzkin. Front. 457 (2007). are main. Ecology 88. Ecol. ration ecologists permission to accept environmental functioning ecosystems will remain to build on. and prognosis for. 16. Appl. Biodivers. and extirpation (26). Leavitt. ecosystems provide viable targets? Under what 21. G. L.. M. Peterken.to future configurations. experimentation. Differ. difficult and expensive than B. D. 109 (2003). Williams. and steppe) (Fig. Jackson et al. 1189 (1999). New Phytol. “no-analog” communities—assemblages of plants. P.neotomadb. M. S. Monogr. Manage. Eds. Furthermore. no inherent natural tinued and even accelerated in the immediate future. An unstated and identifying environmental thresholds at which tebrates. slow the rate of change and direct the system to maintain or improve its 7.range of environmental circumstances in which 15. M. Veg. Stephens. Environ 5. Restored ecosystems how they respond to various perturbations. In the long run. The late-glacial ing of historic ecosystems is typically far greater than of environmental variability they have experienced. determining the circument species assemblages develop. L. D. L. 1) (26. Shuman. Ecol. the only viable option is to D. Z. L.these efforts. Stephenson. Willard. Washington. in Forests in Time. and if multiple 1 Modest alone implement them. Can. and services. 2). Solomon et al. F. 25. Bartlein. Dambrine et al. J. Chambers.and their range of variability. will foster biodiversity and vital ecosystem functions. 29). J. which is accepted as inevitable. Restoration efforts might aim targeted experiments. These Level of global scales.ensuring that if some ecosystems collapse.. The paleoecological record gives restoDC..these tasks daunting.html. We face serious risk that ural states are elusive. Huxley. efforts to conserve considered? Can we develop the tools and wisdom P.to support these decisions? 24. novel ecosystems. Obviously.. D. and a major challenge for 18. and severely altered (3). Even in the face of inevitable environmental elements require that alternative ecosystems be 23. Swetnam. M. Neotoma Paleoecology Database. will advance our capacity to woodlands.Fig. Res. T. 2007). distur. we can continue to develop an under12. B. Cloutman. pursuit of A is more 6. leading to ecosystems trying to repair damage. Colored bands 5. Contrasting ecosystem trajectories from historic through present 3. J. moderately altered (2). As artificial ecologists is to develop effective means of assess19. Ecol. 3 indicate systems in three different states today: relatively unchanged 491 (2007). services.. regional. Ecol. Leduc. and contingencies and legacies are embedded in circumstances will combined forces of climate www. C. G. In the 11. Ecol. and the ecosystems capable of providing ecological goods and services. T. Rochefort. Paleoecological and paleoenvironregion. 568 31 JULY 2009 VOL 325 SCIENCE www. this will lead to ecosystems unlike function. bances. S. 549 (2006). I. assessing the thresholds between re(2001). A. inevitable. preventing damage is more cost effective than and historical ecosystems. Clearly. and guiding design of novel and sustainable 10.stances under which they arose. W.gov/paleo/paleo. Short-term targets of integrating the “reverse monitoring” of paleoecolsembly and disassembly are characteristic of the known. viability of different levels of intervention by identifying historical states 8. National Climatic Data Center. Which historic P. T. 77 (2003). 9 (1869). and insects with no modern counterpart— aim in restoration is to avoid creating bigger problems they will require different levels of intervention. Restoration 4. Ambio 34. Burney. 16. Nature 1. 228 (2005). R. www. 29). goods. D. D. P. For. D. resulting from species in. 2. grasslands. 13. Gorham. Bowman. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. By are the most dramatic example. C. 1266 (2006).org. those of the past (7. Biogeogr. C. Trajectories 1 to tem function. 9. what goods and services they provide. and trasting ecosystems (forests.
is widely recognized (1).0901644106 (2009). it is clear that both the cause of degradation (for example. 1 (2006). 27. For example. invasive (such as invasive birds or invertebrates). Reiners. C. 29. 2011 . tablishment of new species). 26. Rev. the control of invasive species is a key supported by numerous examples confocus of many ecological restoration projects (4). 2000 invertebrates. T. K. Although control of these species is the major focus of ecological restoration.ac. Ecol. 39 (2008). resident biota (6). have a strong negative influence on extinct or very rare. nithidae)] because of predation by invaThe importance of addressing abiotic thresholds in sive mammalian carnivores (8). J. 31.nz PERSPECTIVE Species Invasions and the Limits to Restoration: Learning from the New Zealand Experience R www. W. Hobbs et al. through even with control of mammalian predpredation on native species) and the driver of ecoators. Environ 5. and 2200 plants are fully naturalized in New Zealand (5). Sci. Front. including reproductive muas key drivers influencing the outcomes of tualisms (7). J. J. Resour. S. New Zealand highlights the many challenges that biological invasions present both to other islands and increasingly to continental areas. pest control in New Zealand is well As a result.org on July 18. R.4 cm in diameter) fruits. 30. T. Biological invasions can be restoration perspective. Williams provided discussion and asked difficult questions. I use New Zealand as a case study animal pests may not be reversible. W. Booth. Jackson. 1). species continue to exert substantial pressure on native biodiversity. the future composition of New system change during restoration (through altering Zealand forests will be different from the abundance of resident species or through the esthat before invasion. Natl. as any letup pecially on islands. and J. Lockwood. 33. and can result in irreverThe need for intensive mammalian sible changes in ecosystem composition and structure. Hobbs. has been the reduction in the in invasive species management will result in the loss of the conservation gains achieved. Betancourt. Ecol. Henderson. while others are left largely unmanaged given current technology and resources. Ecology 90. K. Biogeogr.. S.1126/science. Front. Ecol. R. the impacts of restoration projects. S. Univer(>1. Restoration outcomes in the face of A key consequence of biological invasions. The long-term implications of this are poorly understood but are likely to ecent theoretical advances have emphabe important for a range of ecological sized thresholds and alternative stable states processes. David A. A. H. J. 15.sciencemag. J. E-mail: david.1073/PNAS. W. Jackson. J. including some dominant restoration must address not only the degrading forest canopy trees (Fig. T. Gray. the fruit of these trees. and because even when controlled to low levels. control or eradication Species invasions impose key biotic thresholds limiting the success of ecological restoration projects. K. such as those associated with changes invasive birds are capable of dispersing in soil or water conditions. R. is usually able to target only a subset of invasive These thresholds may be difficult to reverse and will have long-term consequences for restoration species (primarily mammalian predators and some because of invasion legacies such as extinctions. Lauenroth. B.SPECIAL SECTION 25. Furthermore. 475 (2007). Hobbs.norton@canterbury. T.org SCIENCE VOL 325 31 JULY 2009 569 Downloaded from www. biotic thresholds they were historically. novaeseelandiae) for dispersal of their large (Cervus elaphus scoticus) are widely Rural Ecology Research Group. [Photos: D. because other potential dispersers are dispersed through native forests and sity of Canterbury. S. One consequence of plants (>1 cm in diameter) in New these emerging perspectives is the recognition that Zealand. Private Bag 4800. Reduced disperresulting from species invasions are likely to be diffisal is likely to result in long-term shifts cult to reverse and have long-term consequences for in forest canopy composition. Plank. high endemism. 10. eradication is usually not possible except on some offshore islands or within fenced enclosures. Williams. abundance of. W. trasting the survival of indigenous Here I explore how species invasions can impose biota in areas with and without such biotic thresholds limiting the success of ecological control (5). 1. 2792 (2009). Shuman. are now refactors but also the altered feedbacks that lead to liant on one avian disperser. Norton and A. R. Christchurch 8140. V.S. Ziegler. U. the kereru self-perpetuating novel ecosystems—ecosystems that (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae). I. A. D. Other are different from those that would have existed bepotential dispersers are either very rare fore human impacts.A. Forest canopy trees such as Beilschmiedia tawa are low densities. However. 28. N. because most invasive species cannot be eliminated plants). McIntosh] New Zealand. and no restoration.1172977 isolation. especially as the impacts of clior extinct [including the moa (Dinormate change increasingly alter biotic interactions (2). McLachlan. 34 birds. S. Environ 6. Cramer. esbiological invasions are likely to be novel and will require long-term resource commitment. Environ. and in some cases the extinction of. because the impacts of biological invasions are pareven when they are controlled to very ticularly pronounced as a result of the archipelago’s Fig. R. 10. red deer dependent on kereru (H. Stefanova. J. A. Annu. T. A.sciencemag. Overpeck. R. K. Kereru themAlthough some biotic thresholds can be easier to selves are far less abundant today than address than abiotic thresholds (3). Sax. Seastedt. 547 (2008). From a restoration projects. Bradshaw. Proc. L. J. Suding. large-fruited ecological restoration (1). Norton and invasive species management therefore needs to be ongoing (4). For example. and recent human settlement (within the past 700 to 800 years). W. Glob. At least 30 mammals. School of Forestry. Acad.
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