Identifying species suitable for ecosystem restoration now and in the future

Images 
Foxtail Barley (Hordeum jubatum)

Foxtail Barley (Hordeum jubatum), one of the species identified in the study. Photo by Joe Walewski via iNaturalist licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Restoration of ecosystems can be achieved through introducing species important for the structure and function of the habitat. Changing climates complicate this process as suitable habitats may shift in the future. In this paper, researchers propose the concept of “prestoration”, a method of selecting species that will persist not only now but also in the future. Working from the Colorado Plateau as a case study, the researchers use GBIF-mediated occurrences to construct ecological niche models for 24 species of local perennial grasses previously selected as candidate species for restoration. They then calculate the prestoration potential of each species, and find that suitable area might decline by 40 per cent by mid-century. Turning again to GBIF data, the researchers are able identify new species more suitable for long-term climate changes. Adding these has the potential of making up for the losses projected for the local species.

Citation information 

Butterfield BJ, Copeland SM, Munson SM, Roybal CM and Wood TE (2016) Prestoration: using species in restoration that will persist now and into the future. Restoration Ecology. Wiley-Blackwell. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/rec.12381.