[Seminar] Prof. Rebecca Ostertag - Using plant functional traits to design forest restoration
Monday, June 19, 2023 - 14:00
Lab 3, room C700
Title: Using plant functional traits to design forest restoration: an example of hybrid ecosystem restoration in an invaded Hawaiian lowland wet forest
Abstract: Plant functional recently have been suggested to be useful for restoration planning. The Liko Nā Pilina hybrid ecosystem experiment in Hilo, Hawaii, USA employed functional traits to design and test the suitability of different species combinations, using native and introduced species to meet the objectives of increased carbon storage, native biodiversity regeneration, and invasion resistance. In this case, restoration to a previous reference condition was not feasible. After the first five years of their development, we evaluated community-level outcomes related to nutrient cycling: carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus via litterfall, litter decomposition, outplant productivity, rates of invasion, and leaf litter arthropod species composition. We found that regardless of treatment, the experimental communities had low rates of nutrient cycling through litterfall relative to the invaded forest. In addition, which treatment did "best" depends on the metric being assessed. This seminar will include a discussion of how hybrid ecosystems represent a paradigm shift, how potential metrics of belonging within an ecosystem may be developed, and how new policies can support these efforts. Although challenges remain, this study provides evidence that functional trait-based restoration approaches to carefully select species and to assess ecosystem functioning can achieve management goals.