Habitat Restoration and Species Recovery

If the cause of a species' endangerment is the loss or modification of its habitat , conservation biologists can attempt to find ways of restoring that habitat. A field called restoration ecology has developed to study methods of restoring natural habitats. Such methods are needed because many ecosystems will not recover, or will do so only very slowly, without assistance. Biologists can also attempt to maintain endangered species in captivity until suitable habitat is available for them in the wild.

Restoring ecosystem processes is difficult

Conservation biologists have only a limited ability to restore natural ecosystems. In the United States, the false belief that humans can create functioning ecosystems has resulted in policies that make it easy to get permits for developments that destroy habitats. Developers need only state that they will create habitats to substitute for the ones they are destroying. However, even the most experienced wetland ecol-ogists have great difficulty creating new wetlands that support the species that live in those being destroyed.

In southern California, where 90 percent of the coastal wetlands have been destroyed, wetland restoration is a high priority. Because species have been lost from degraded coastal wetlands, restoration requires species introductions, but which species should be introduced? In early attempts at restoration, only one or two common, easily grown wetland species were planted. Many wetland-associated species failed to recolonize these "rehabilitated" wetlands. To understand why, biologists established a large field experiment at the Tijuana Estuary to examine the effects of plant species richness on several factors that might affect the success of wetland restoration. They found that experimental plots planted with species-rich mixtures developed a complex vegetation structure, which is important to insects and birds. The species-rich plots also accumulated nitrogen faster than species-poor experimental communities (Figure 57.9).

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Essentials of Human Physiology

Essentials of Human Physiology

This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.

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