Plant Traits as Predictors of Performance in Ecological Restoration

Pywell, R.F., J.M. Bullock, D.B. Roy, L. Warman, K.J. Walker and P. Rothery

Publication Date:

There are few studies of the performance of species in restored vegetation communities. Here we report the results of a meta-analysis of 25 experiments concerned with species-rich grassland restoration on ex-arable land and agriculturally improved grasslands situated at a wide range of locations throughout lowland Britain. Differences in species’ performance were related to 38 physiological and morphological traits. This study has important implications for practical restoration programmes and policies. Efficiency might be increased by introducing only species with good performance, but this would lead to uniformity among restored grasslands and would diminish the benefits of habitat restoration for national and regional biodiversity. Future work should focus on practical methods to increase the successful establishment of the poor performing but desirable species, by (i) targeting restoration to low fertility soils, (ii) changing the abiotic environment or (iii) the ‘phased introduction’ of species several years after restoration, when both the plant community is more stable and the environmental conditions are more favourable for establishment.

Resource Type:
Peer-reviewed Article

Journal of Applied Ecology