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We strive to understand how to restore ecosystems that have been damaged or destroyed by humans. We consider how ecological theories can inform restoration practices, and how ecosystems undergoing restoration can be used to test ecological theory. We answer these questions through collaboration with restoration practitioners, field-based experiments, and vegetation surveys.

How do we go about studying ecosystem restoration?

Ecosystem destruction is a leading cause of biodiversity loss and contributor to climate change. In turn, major initiatives are underway to restore ecosystems worldwide, but how do we best restore degraded landscapes? This question is simple on the surface can be anything but and drives much of the research in our lab. To address it, several themes run through our work:

  • Understand how and why ecosystems have become degraded by humans. Knowing how to put ecosystems back together requires understanding of how they were taken apart in the first place.

  • Couple fundamental science with restoration practice. Basic ecological science helps us understand how ecosystems are structured, how they change over time, and why they support the species they do. Restoration ecology is the chance to put this theory to work and presents an opportunity for real-world tests of our theories. 

  • Help evidence lead the way. We work for our research to be relevant to the needs of practitioners and for it to be communicated clearly. 

  • Think big. Landscapes are big areas, spanning hectares to square kilometers, and doing restoration at this scale requires innovation in our scientific and practical skills. To do landscape-scale restoration, we need to bring in concepts not historically focused on in restoration ecology - like how we can facilitate plant and animal movement across large areas with habitat corridors. 

  • Grow partnerships. In our work, we partner with other researchers and numerous restoration practitioners, spanning NGO's, state and federal agencies, and private land owners. Restoring degraded landscapes is a big job and will work best when we’re working together.


Current Projects

Click the photos below to learn more about current lab projects:

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