Measuring the Success of Wildlife Community Restoration

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cluster analysis, communities, focal species, multimetric methods, multivariate methods, ordination analysis, percentage similarity analysis, restoration success, vertebrates, wildlife community restoration

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It is difficult to measure the success of wildlife community restoration when the restoration goal concerns a relatively broad geographic area, rather than a particular piece of land, since many restored sites need to be compared to many reference sites simultaneously. A review of the methods used to measure success in previous restoration efforts indicated the potential value of multimetric methods to make the comparison. We designed a new method that retains some of the advantages of multimetric methods but also removes some of the associated problems. The new method was applied to data from 30 restored sites (phosphate-mined land) and 30 reference sites in central Florida (USA), and it showed the difference in wildlife composition between restored and reference sites to be large, relative to the maximum possible difference.

Alternative methods were applied to the same data. Multivariate methods were unable to measure success adequately. Percentage similarity analysis yielded results seemingly comparable to those derived with the new method, but the new method possesses advantages over percentage similarity analysis. The advantages derive largely from the first step of the new method, which is ranking species according to the magnitude of the difference between distributions at restored and reference sites. Species ranking clearly reveals which species contribute most to the distance between the restored system and the target; enables well-founded decision-making about which species can be excluded, if necessary, without seriously compromising the restoration goal; promotes rigor in the subsequent steps of the model; and overcomes the problem that a single species may inordinately influence the result.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Ecological Applications, v. 12, issue 6, p. 1861-1871