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Adaptive restoration of river terrace vegetation through iterative experiments

October 1, 2014

Restoration projects can involve a high degree of uncertainty and risk, which can ultimately result in failure. An adaptive restoration approach can reduce uncertainty through controlled, replicated experiments designed to test specific hypotheses and alternative management approaches. Key components of adaptive restoration include willingness of project managers to accept the risk inherent in experimentation, interest of researchers, availability of funding for experimentation and monitoring, and ability to restore sites as iterative experiments where results from early efforts can inform the design of later phases. This paper highlights an ongoing adaptive restoration project at Zion National Park (ZNP), aimed at reducing the cover of exotic annual Bromus on riparian terraces, and revegetating these areas with native plant species. Rather than using a trial-and-error approach, ZNP staff partnered with academic, government, and private-sector collaborators to conduct small-scale experiments to explicitly address uncertainties concerning biomass removal of annual bromes, herbicide application rates and timing, and effective seeding methods for native species. Adaptive restoration has succeeded at ZNP because managers accept the risk inherent in experimentation and ZNP personnel are committed to continue these projects over a several-year period. Techniques that result in exotic annual Bromus removal and restoration of native plant species at ZNP can be used as a starting point for adaptive restoration projects elsewhere in the region.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2014
Title Adaptive restoration of river terrace vegetation through iterative experiments
DOI 10.3375/043.034.0410
Authors Michelle P. Dela Cruz, Vanessa B. Beauchamp, Patrick B. Shafroth, Cheryl E. Decker, Aviva O’Neil
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Natural Areas Journal
Index ID 70133364
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center