Restoring Wildlife: Ecological Concepts and Practical Applications

Restoring Wildlife: Ecological Concepts and Practical Applications

by Michael L. Morrison



Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781597264921
Publisher: Island Press
Publication date: 05/20/2009
Series: Science and Practice of Ecological Restoration Series
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Michael L. Morrison is professor and Caesar Kleberg Chair in Wildlife
Ecology and Conservation in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
Sciences at Texas A&M University in College Station.

Read an Excerpt

Restoring Wildlife

Ecological Concepts and Practical Applications

By Michael L. Morrison, 2nd ed.


Copyright © 2009 Michael L. Morrison
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-59726-940-7


Introduction: Restoring and Preserving Wildlife

I began my previous book on wildlife restoration (Morrison 2002) with a quote from Michael Gilpin: "The restorationist who sees himself or herself as the practical arm of some abstract, academic discipline is not likely to give great thought to the theoretical aspects of the restoration process.... He will probably view his failures as a result of personal ignorance of the received wisdom" (1987, 305). I used this quote to emphasize the fundamental role that ecology plays in restoration. I study wildlife, and the profession of wildlife biology began with well-meaning people doing the best they could to manage animals based on personal experience, knowledge passed down to them by other experienced people, and a good amount of best guess. The wildlife profession has moved increasingly toward the gathering of rigorous scientific data, followed by development of applications for management of animals based on those data. Likewise, the restoration profession is moving increasingly toward the gathering of sound data as a foundation for development of practical applications of those data. Thus, the received wisdom is growing evermore reliable, and restorationists, like wildlife biologists, are becoming increasingly versed in environmental science and ecology. As stated by Palmer et al. (2006, 2), the focus of their book, Foundations of Restoration Ecology, is "the mutual benefit of a stronger connection between ecological theory and the science of restoration ecology." The aim of this volume is to help interweave theoretical and practical aspects of wildlife biology with direct application to the restoration and conservation of animals.

Much of restoration involves, directly or indirectly, improving conditions for native species of wildlife. To be ultimately successful, then, restoration plans must be guided in large part by the needs of current or desired wildlife species in the project area. Such information includes data on species abundances and distribution, both current and historic; details on habitat requirements, including proper plant species composition and structure; food requirements; breeding locations; the role that succession will play in species turnovers; problems associated with exotic species of plants and animals; the problems of restoring small, isolated areas; and so forth. Thus, proper consideration of wildlife—their habitat needs and numbers—is a complicated process that requires careful consideration during all stages of restoration. Additionally, the success of a restoration project should be judged, in part, by how wildlife species respond to the project. Such monitoring will provide feedback for modifications of the specific project, as well as help refine future projects. The approach includes applications at all spatial scales, from broadscale (landscape) projects, down to small, site-specific projects. Throughout, however, I emphasize a holistic, integrated ecosystem approach.

In this volume, I provide ecologists, restorationists, administrators, and other professionals involved with restoration with a basic understanding of the fundamentals of wildlife populations and wildlife-habitat relationships. This knowledge will provide a good understanding of the types of information needed in planning, plus hands-on experience that will impart an understanding of the problems inherent in this type of work. It will provide the basic tools necessary to develop and implement a sound monitoring program. The two primary monitoring themes covered are experimental design and statistical analysis. Additionally, material is provided on the sampling of rare species and populations. With this knowledge, restorationists will be better equipped to discuss their needs with professional wildlife biologists. No special training or education is necessary, although knowledge of basic ecological concepts and basic statistics would be helpful. This book addresses wildlife-habitat restoration that uses the following techniques:

• Developing the concept of habitat, its historic development, components, spatial-temporal relationships, and role in land management

• Reviewing how wildlife populations are identified and counted

• Detailing techniques for measuring wildlife and wildlife habitat, including basic statistical techniques

• Discussing how wildlife and their habitat needs can be incorporated into restoration planning, especially concerning size of preserves, fragmentation, and corridors

• Developing a holistic approach to restoration of large landscapes (integrated, ecosystem approaches)

• Discussing the role that exotic species, competitors, predators, disease, and related factors influence restoration planning

• Developing a solid justification and reasoning for monitoring and good sampling design Allowing for the development and critique of individual monitoring projects

• Discussing and critiquing case histories of wildlife analysis in restoration projects

• Providing a firm understanding of sources available to the restorationists for further learning and implementation of wildlife-habitat relationships and monitoring in restoration planning.

Thus, this book provides a good thorough understanding of the conceptual and practical problems involved in sampling wildlife populations. It is critical that restorationists understand what wildlife biologists can and cannot provide within certain time and monetary limitations. Although I do not take a "cookbook" approach, I devote chapter 10 to case studies, tying the various concepts presented herein into a comprehensive package for your review and guidance. However, applying general prescriptions most often provides unpredictable results, some of which may cause more harm than good (e.g., attracting unwanted exotic species). This book provides the basic tools needed to understand ecological concepts that can be used to design restoration projects with specific goals for wildlife, as well as specific guidance and examples on how other projects have been designed and implemented.

Fundamentals of Habitat Restoration

In this book you will learn the fundamental principles of, and be exposed to, many of the most commonly used tools for evaluating the wildlife present in an area and determining their relationships with their habitat. Ecology is complicated, so there are many topics that must be thoroughly understood:

• species lists

• habitat uses

• ecological processes

• monitoring

• study design

• statistical analyses

• population processes

• exotic species, diseases, and parasites

Knowledge of these topics is necessary if you desire to develop the following:

• restoration plans

• endangered species recovery

• population monitoring

• impact assessments

• reserve designs

• habitat conservation plans

• basic ecological relationships

This book also provides guidance about where more advanced and detailed literature can be found.

Why a New Book?

This book builds on the material presented in Wildlife Restoration (Morrison 2002), because ecological principles remain the necessary foundation for discussing wildlife. I have, however, used the experience I have gained since its publication to reorganize and substantially expand this new edition. Additionally, I have incorporated recent topics in the broad field of wildlife-habitat relationships and wildlife-study design, topics that I and my coauthors have synthesized and discussed in new editions of other books (Morrison et al. 2006; 2008). This book is therefore more than a second edition, hence the new title. I also dropped the previous subtitle, Techniques for habitat analysis and animal monitoring, because those topics are now much more evenly balanced by an increasingly comprehensive coverage of the field of wildlife ecology.

Chapter 2 goes into detail on issues such as defining wildlife, single- and multiple-species approaches, and ecosystem management. Chapters 3 (Populations) and 4 (Habitat) have been revised and updated and are the core components of this book. Chapter 5, Assemblages, is new and explains how to understand wildlife restoration in the context of environmental stochasticity, recovery, succession, and related principles. Chapter 6, Desired Conditions, is also new, and it uses the practical work I have conducted as well as the literature that explains how to gather and then assemble the information needed to guide a restoration plan.

Chapter 7 (Design Concepts) develops and interrelates the core components needed to design and implement a conservation area. Topics covered include habitat heterogeneity and fragmentation, disturbance ecology and the dynamics of habitats in landscapes, corridors and buffers, and the landscape matrix as a planning area. Chapter 8 (Primer on Study Design) summarizes the basic principles of study design and monitoring that are required for the gaining of reliable information, in the context of the study of restoration and conservation of wildlife. Because most restoration projects cannot be replicated, I discuss how to apply the field of impact assessment to restoration. Chapter 9 focuses on monitoring, which is a centerpiece of how we gain information on the success of our projects, anticipate how we need to modify (i.e., fix) our projects postconstruction, and gain knowledge that can be used to plan future endeavors.

As mentioned earlier, chapter 10 introduces four case studies of wildlife restoration. Each case study reveals how the project was conceived, how goals were developed and criteria for success were determined, how monitoring was developed, and what changes (adaptive management) might be needed as the project develops following construction. These case studies take advantage of several recent and ongoing restoration projects that my colleagues and I have been conducting. They were developed by graduate students in my wildlife restoration course at Texas A&M University using information I provided on the specific projects as well as information they gathered from the literature. I am confident that the lessons we have learned in developing these case studies will be of benefit to readers of this book.

The book concludes with a synthesis discussion (chapter 11) on how to put knowledge gained in this book to work and a summary of the key points—the take home message—from each preceding chapter. I have also added a glossary that provides brief definitions of key terms used in the book and identifies the chapter where each term is initially defined and developed. Terms found in the glossary are also italicized in the text.

I am further confident that the field of restoration will continue to grow and become ever more important in the conservation and management of wildlife. I hope this book helps in some way to further promote the positive growth of restoration in general and, more specifically, the restoration of desired wildlife populations.


Operating Concepts

There are many ecological concepts that must be considered when developing any study, including a restoration project. The foundation of the science of restoration is broad and includes such ecological concepts such as population ecology and genetics, ecophysiology, evolutionary biology, food webs, ecosystem dynamics, habitat and niche ecology, and other related topics (see Palmer et al. 2006 for a detailed discussion). Successful restoration obviously depends on the understanding of ecological principles, but restoring ecosystems is not limited to ecology, since it requires interdisciplinary approaches with other sciences, such as geography, chemistry, and physics (Halle and Fattorini 2004). In addition, economics, sociology, and politics must be considered for successful restoration projects but are beyond the scope of this book. In this chapter I discuss some of the key concepts and terms that underpin restoration in general; these concepts and terms thus serve as the foundation upon which I will build the remaining, more wildlife-specific chapters of this book.

Restoration Defined

The term restore is well understood to mean to bring back into existence or use, and restoration as the act of restoring. The difficulty in the terminology of restoration is determining the condition to which something will be restored. Automobile restoration is simple, given we know the year—indeed the specific day—that the car was produced. Drawings are usually available that detail every external and internal part of a car; photographs are likely available. Unfortunately, nature does not have serial numbers and parts catalogs, making the job of determining how to proceed with restoration of ecological systems fraught with uncertainties.

As reviewed by Halle and Fattorini (2004), there have been initiatives to establish a theoretical framework for restoration ecology (e.g., Hobbs and Norton 1996). The related fields of disturbance ecology and succession are fundamental to restoration ecology.

Natural succession can be used and manipulated in ecological restoration to guide a system degraded by heavy disturbance back to its original state. Additionally, disturbances of smaller magnitude are often used to direct or speed up succession, such as to provide the required site conditions for establishment of desired species. Thus, developing the conceptual framework for a restoration project should include combining elements of disturbance and succession. It might be possible to restore the basic functions or ecosystem processes, but to achieve the former structure in full—including a particular assemblage of species—is usually impossible (Halle and Fattorini 2004). In chapter 5, I incorporate elements of disturbance and especially succession in the development of the assemblage of species. In this section I will lay out some of the key issues that must be considered when first venturing into the realm of wildlife restoration.

Time Frames and Historic Conditions

Anderson (1996) depicted the ways in which an ecosystem could be viewed with and without various human-induced impacts (figure 2.1). The dashed lines in figure 2.1 are a recognition that we cannot know the trajectory any ecosystem would take, with or without human influence. Similarly, we cannot know the trajectory that ecosystems will take into the future. The difficulty in determining historical conditions is, first, determining what time period is to serve as "historic," and then, determining what ecological conditions existed during that time period. For example, recent evidence suggests that controlled burning of vegetation to maintain a preferred ecosystem state was present as early as 5 5,000 years ago in southern Africa (Smith 2007).

Noss (1985) thoroughly reviewed the use of presettlement vegetation as a basis for restoration. He noted that presettlement vegetation systems were relatively ancient and stable and serve as a baseline against which we can measure humanized landscapes.

When humans occupy areas in large numbers, we replace nonhumanized disturbance regimes with a new set of disturbances that impact native flora and fauna in different ways. I use the term nonhumanized rather than natural, because humans are, indeed, a natural part of the environment; humans evolved on this planet. Humans are increasingly making a choice to try and manage our activities such that we minimize our negative impacts on plant and other animal species.

Noss (1985) concluded that the question of whether Indians should be considered a natural and beneficial component of the environment cannot be answered conclusively. He noted that the potential impact that Indians had on the environment varied by time and location: in some regions Indian populations were sparse and probably contributed positive feedback to ecosystem functions, whereas in other regions their activities resulted in extensive alterations of vegetation and there is little justification to consider them any more natural than European settlers. I do not disagree with Noss per se, but rather offer that we gain nothing by trying to categorize or judge human impacts to the environment in a natural versus an unnatural manner; such a debate tends to put people into opposing factions (e.g., progrowth versus nogrowth, developer versus preservationist). As a scientist, I think my role is to help quantify the likely consequences of human activities on the environment so that the public and the decision makers can make informed decisions.


Excerpted from Restoring Wildlife by Michael L. Morrison, 2nd ed.. Copyright © 2009 Michael L. Morrison. Excerpted by permission of ISLAND PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Introduction: Restoring and Preserving Wildlife
Chapter 2. Operating Concepts
Chapter 3. Populations
Chapter 4. Habitat
Chapter 5. Assemblages
Chapter 6. Desired Conditions
Chapter 7. Design Concepts
Chapter 8. A Primer on Study Design
Chapter 9. Monitoring: Field Methods and Applications
Chapter 10. Case Studies
Chapter 11. Wildlife Restoration: Synthesis

Literature Cited

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