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Towards a population approach for evaluating grassland restoration—a systematic review

Harzé, Mélanie, Monty, Arnaud, Boisson, Sylvain, Pitz, Carline, Hermann, Julia‐Maria, Kollmann, Johannes, Mahy, Grégory
Restoration ecology 2018 v.26 no.2 pp. 227-234
demography, ecosystems, grasslands, habitat fragmentation, invasive species, land restoration, landscapes, plants (botany), population dynamics, population genetics, population viability, reproductive performance, systematic review, threatened species
Persistence of restored populations depends on growth, reproduction, dispersal, local adaptation, and a suitable landscape pattern to foster metapopulation dynamics. Although the negative effects of habitat fragmentation on plant population dynamics are well understood, particularly in grasslands, the population traits that control grassland restoration are less known. We reviewed the use of population traits for evaluating grassland restoration success based on 141 publications (1986–2015). The results demonstrated that population demography was relatively well‐assessed but detailed studies providing information on key stages of the life cycle were lacking despite their importance in determining population viability. Vegetative and generative performances have been thoroughly investigated, notably the components of plant fitness, such as reproductive output, while genetic and spatial population structures were largely ignored. More work on the population effects of ecological restoration would be welcomed, particularly with a focus on population genetics. Targeted species were principally common and dominant natives, or invasive plants while rare or threatened species were poorly considered. Evaluation of ecological restoration should be conducted at different scales of ecological complexity, but so far, communities and ecosystems are over represented, and more focus should be directed towards a population approach as population traits are essential indicators of restoration success.