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Vegetation structure, species diversity, and ecosystem processes as measures of restoration success

Summary: Vegetation structure, species diversity, and ecosystem
processes as measures of restoration success
MariŽa C. Ruiz-JaeŽn *, T. Mitchell Aide
Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras, P.O. Box 23360,
San Juan 00931-3360, Puerto Rico
Received 25 April 2005; received in revised form 13 July 2005; accepted 14 July 2005
Most restoration projects have focused on recovery of vegetation to assess restoration success. Nevertheless if the goal of a
restoration project is to create an ecosystem that is self-supporting and resilient to perturbation, we also need information on the
recovery of other trophic levels and ecosystem processes. To provide an example on how to assess restoration success, we
compared four measures of vegetation structure, four measures of species diversity, and six measures of ecosystem processes
among pre-reforested, reforested, and reference sites. In addition, we described how Bray Curtis Ordination could be used to
evaluate restoration success. Vegetation structure recovered rapidly due to the increase in vegetation height and the decrease in
herbaceous cover. Other measures such as litter cover, number of litter layers, and DBH size class values are recovering at slower
rates, but they also have increased vegetation heterogeneity in the reforested site. Species diversity recovered rapidly. The
increase in vegetation structure changed the local conditions in the reforested site facilitating the colonization of woody
seedlings, ants, reptiles, and amphibians. Ecosystem processes, particularly litter production and turnover, have enhanced the
incorporation of nutrients and organic matter in the soil. By including vegetation structure, species diversity, and ecosystem
processes measures we have better information to determine the success of a restoration project. Moreover, the Subjective Bray
Curtis Ordination is a useful approach for evaluating different restoration techniques or identifying measures that are recovering


Source: Aide, Mitchell - Department of Biology, Universidad de Puerto Rico - Rio Piedras


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology