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Restoration of contaminated ecosystems: adaptive management in a changing climate

November 1, 2017

Three case studies illustrate how adaptive management (AM) has been used in ecological restorations that involve contaminants. Contaminants addressed include mercury, selenium, and contaminants and physical disturbances delivered to streams by urban stormwater runoff. All three cases emphasize the importance of broad stakeholder input early and consistently throughout decision analysis for AM. Risk of contaminant exposure provided input to the decision analyses (e.g. selenium exposure to endangered razorback suckers, Stewart Lake; multiple contaminants in urban stormwater runoff, Melbourne) and was balanced with the protection of resources critical for a desired future state (e.g. preservation old growth trees, South River). Monitoring also played a critical role in the ability to conduct the decision analyses necessary for AM plans. For example, newer technologies in the Melbourne case provided a testable situation where contaminant concentrations and flow disturbance were reduced to support a return to good ecological condition. In at least one case (Stewart Lake), long-term monitoring data are being used to document the potential effects of climate change on a restoration trajectory. Decision analysis formalized the process by which stakeholders arrived at the priorities for the sites, which together constituted the desired future condition towards which each restoration is aimed. Alternative models were developed that described in mechanistic terms how restoration can influence the system towards the desired future condition. Including known and anticipated effects of future climate scenarios in these models will make them robust to the long-term exposure and effects of contaminants in restored ecosystems.

Publication Year 2017
Title Restoration of contaminated ecosystems: adaptive management in a changing climate
DOI 10.1111/rec.12583
Authors Aida Farag, Diane L. Larson, Jenny Stauber, Ralph Stahl, John Isanhart, Kevin T. McAbee, Christopher J. Walsh
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Restoration Ecology
Index ID 70194283
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Columbia Environmental Research Center