Ecosystem functioning lags the recovery of plant communities, new study finds
Student researchers assist Virginia Matzek study the Sacramento River
Restoration ecologists seek to create, or recreate, functioning ecosystems with all their flora and fauna intact. But a new study from Santa Clara University suggests that bringing back the flora and fauna might be the easy part. Work by Virginia Matzek and her student colleagues in the restored forests of the Sacramento River shows that aspects of ecosystem functioning, like nutrient cycling, are much slower to recover during restoration than aspects of vegetative structure, like biomass.The Sacramento River restoration is one of the most ambitious restoration efforts ever undertaken in California, covering more than 6,000 acres of the floodplain in newly planted native riparian forest that had been formerly lost to farming. Previous research had established that the restoration sites were quite successful in improving biodiversity and habitat values, but little work had been done on the functioning of the ecosystem.
Jul 10, 2016
Photo of Sacramento River restoration by Geoff Fricker.