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Phytometers are underutilised for evaluating ecological restoration
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. (Landskapsekologi)
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. (Landskapsekologi)
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. (Landskapsekologi)
2013 (English)In: Basic and Applied Ecology, ISSN 1439-1791, E-ISSN 1618-0089, Vol. 14, no 5, 369-377 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Ecological restoration increases, but evaluation of restoration efforts is inadequate because reliableperformance indicators are lacking. As plants are important actors in ecological restoration, wesuggest that they be used as meters, i.e. phytometers, of restoration success. Phytometer plants aretransplanted to different conditions to integrate measures of the prevailing conditions. We analysed100 studies for the use of phytometers and especially their applicability to evaluate ecologicalrestoration. Most studies employed single species and life-stages and focused on habitat conditionsand environmental impacts. Most experiments were conducted on grasslands in wet temperate regions.Growth was the dominant response variable, in long-term studies often combined with reproductiveoutput and plant survival. Only five studies specifically evaluated ecological restoration, implying thatits potential is not yet realised. We found phytometers promising in evaluating restoration outcomesgiven that they are easy to measure, can provide rapid results, and serve as integrative indicators ofenvironmental conditions with the ability of covering many aspects of plant life and ecosystemprocesses. To evaluate restoration success with high resolution and generality, we suggest acombination of different phytometer species, life-forms and life-stages, and experimental periods >1year to reduce effects of transplantation and between-year variation and to account for time lags inecological processes and changes after restoration.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 14, no 5, 369-377 p.
Keyword [en]
Bioassay; Ecosystem change; Environmental disturbance; Indicator; Plants; Transplants
National Category
Natural Sciences Ecology
Research subject
Ecological Botany
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-67639DOI: 10.1016/j.baae.2013.05.008OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-67639DiVA: diva2:619495
Funder
Formas, 215-2006-491
Available from: 2013-05-03 Created: 2013-03-25 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Use of phytometers for evaluating ecological restoration
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Use of phytometers for evaluating ecological restoration
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The increase in ecological restoration can be attributed to valuation of healthyecosystems and concerns for future climate changes. Freshwaters belong among theglobally most altered ecosystems and are restored to counteract human impacts.Many Swedish streams that were channelized to facilitate timber floating have beenrestored by returning boulders and reconnecting riparian with instream habitats.Evaluation of restoration lacks reliable indicators of organism performance, possiblydue to the complexity of ecosystem responses. Phytometers, i.e. standardized plantstransplanted to different environments, are important indicators of restorationsuccess. Phytometers integrate multiple environmental factors and measureecosystem functions directly. This thesis combines a literature review with threeexperiments and focuses on phytometer use for evaluating ecological restoration. Werecommend using different phytometer species, life-forms and life-stages and longexperiments (>1 year) to obtain high resolution and generality (I). In greenhouse andfield experiments we investigated the effect of restoring channelized rivers onphytometers and abiotic variables in the riparian zone. We hypothesized thatphytometer performance varies with stream size and climate. In the greenhouse, weanalysed differences in fertility between channelized and restored reaches by growingphytometers on soils from experimental sites (II). Phytometers grew better on soilsfrom restored sites in small streams, indicating a positive effect of restoration on soil.We detected this effect already 3-7 years after restoration, suggesting a fasterrecovery than predicted. In a short-term field experiment focusing on germinationand establishment of sunflowers, seedling survival, substrate availability, and soilnutrient content in large streams were enhanced by restoration (III). Overall,phytometers performed best at high altitudes and short growing seasons. The use ofMolinia caerulea and Filipendula ulmaria as phytometers in a long-term fieldexperiment (IV) revealed a better performance at restored sites. One reason was thatsummer flow-variability was higher, particularly in medium-sized streams. Sincephytometers allocated more biomass to belowground parts at restored compared tochannelized sites, it seems important to separate above- and belowground biomass inrestoration evaluation. Restoration outcomes vary with location in the catchment.Knowing such potentially different responses could guide restorationists in where tolocate restoration to be effective or successful. We suggest that small streams reactparticularly fast to restoration. Given that the proportion of small streams is high andthat restoration success in headwaters may favour downstream reaches, werecommend restoration to begin in tributaries to larger rivers. It is not always knownwhy phytometers react the way they do. Greenhouse experiments can disentangle thecauses of phytometer responses in the field by focusing on single environmentalfactors. We demonstrate that phytometers integrate ecosystem responses torestoration by reflecting how environmental factors affect plants under fieldconditions. Further studies are needed to better understand the underlyingmechanisms.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå Universitet, 2013. 31 p.
Keyword
Bioassay, Channelization, Ecosystem change, Ecosystem response
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Ecological Botany
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-70098 (URN)978-91-7459-623-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-05-31, Uminova Science Park, Tvistevägen 48, Älgsalen, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 215-2006-491
Available from: 2013-05-08 Created: 2013-05-03 Last updated: 2015-07-07Bibliographically approved

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Dietrich, AnnaNilsson, ChristerJansson, Roland

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