Genetic Considerations in Plant Ecological Restoration

Danny J. Gustafson

in Ecology

ISBN: 9780199830060
Published online March 2014 | | DOI:
Genetic Considerations in Plant Ecological Restoration

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  • Applied Ecology (Environmental Science)
  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Plant Ecology
  • Zoology and Animal Sciences


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Ecological restoration is commonly viewed as an attempt to restore an ecological system to its historical composition, structure, and function, which may not be possible given biotic and abiotic constraints and legacies of past land use. The definition of ecological restoration has been expanded to incorporate scientific inquiry into the process of the recovery of a natural range of ecosystem composition, structure, and dynamics. Restoration ecologists can advance ecological and evolutionary theory by using restoration projects as field-based experimental units; however, most ecological restoration activities are not conducted as scientific studies. Ecological restoration research spans different levels of organization from genes to ecosystems. Genetic considerations are fundamental to the success of ecological restoration, from seed source selection to genetic control of ecosystem services. Decisions regarding the use of local versus non-local plant material and the mixing of source populations under different conditions can be based on sound population genetic, ecological, and evolutionary theory research; however, selection of plant material to be used in ecological restoration is often driven by the specific project goals, availability and quality of plant material, site conditions, and scale of the project. Beyond the local versus nonlocal selection issue, genetic issues related to small population dynamics, gene flow in the modern landscape, and gene expression affecting community structure and ecosystem functions can affect the success of ecological restoration activities. This article focuses primarily on plants; however, issues related to genetics of small populations (inbreeding and outbreeding depression, founder effects, and fitness consequences of reduced genetic variation) are important considerations for animal species too. The readings contained within this bibliography include: ecotypic variation, seed provenance for restoration, seed provenance for revegetation, life-history traits, moving beyond neutral markers, inbreeding depression, outbreeding depression, founder effects, introgression, fitness consequences of reduced genetic variation, community and landscape genetics, testing genotypic effects on community and ecosystem processes, evaluating success, and genetic composition and diversity in restored populations.

Article.  11860 words. 

Subjects: Applied Ecology (Environmental Science) ; Ecology and Conservation ; Plant Ecology ; Zoology and Animal Sciences

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