Insights into invasion and restoration ecology: Time to collaborate towards a holistic approach to tackle biological invasions
Mirijam Gaertner 1, Judy L. Fisher 2, Gyan P. Sharma 3, Karen J. Esler 4
1 Centre for Invasion Biology, Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, South Africa
2 School of Plant Biology, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, Perth WA 6009, Australia
3 Department of Environmental Studies, University of Delhi, Delhi 110007, India
4 Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, South Africa
The aim of our study is to provide an integrated framework for the management of alien plant invasions, combining insights and experiences from the fields of invasion and restoration ecology to enable more effective management of invasive species. To determine linkages between the scientific outputs of the two disciplines we used an existing data base on restoration studies between 2000 and 2008 and did a bibliometric analysis. We identified the type of restoration applied, determined by the aim of the study, and conducted a content analysis on 208 selected studies with a link to biological invasions (invasion-restoration studies). We found a total of 1075 articles on ecosystem restoration, with only eight percent of the studies having the main objective to control alien invasions. The content analysis of 208 invasion-restoration studies showed that the majority of the studies focused on causes of degradation other than alien invasions. If invaders were referred to as the main driver of degradation, the prevalent cause for degradation was invaders outcompeting and replacing native species. Mechanical control of alien plant invasions was by far the most common control method used. Measures that went beyond the removal of alien plants were implemented in sixty-five percent of the studies.
Although invasion control was not as common as other types of restoration, a closer look at the sub-group of invasion-restoration studies shows a clear link between restoration and invasion ecology. Concerns, as identified in the literature review, are firstly that restoration activities mostly focus on controlling the invader while other underlying causes for degradation are neglected, and secondly that the current approach of dealing with alien invasions lacks a combination of theoretical and practical aspects. We suggest that closer collaboration between invasion and restoration ecologists can help to improve the management of alien plant invasions. We conclude with a framework and a case study from Perth Western Australia integrating the two disciplines, with the aim of informing restoration practice.
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