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Title: How far to build it before they come? Analyzing the use of the F ield of D reams hypothesis in bull kelp restoration
Abstract In restoration ecology, the Field of Dreams hypothesis posits that restoration efforts that create a suitable environment could lead to the eventual recovery of the remaining aspects of the ecosystem through natural processes. Natural processes following partial restoration has led to ecosystem recovery in both terrestrial and aquatic systems. However, understanding the efficacy of a “Field of Dreams” approach requires a comparison of different approaches to partial restoration in terms of spatial, temporal, and ecological scale with what would happen given more comprehensive restoration efforts. We explore the relative effect of partial restoration and ongoing recovery on restoration efficacy with a dynamical model based on temperate rocky reefs in Northern California. We analyze our model for both the ability and rate of bull kelp forest recovery under different restoration strategies. We compare the efficacy of a partial restoration approach with a more comprehensive restoration effort by exploring how kelp recovery likelihood and rate change with varying intensities of urchin removal and kelp outplanting over different time periods and spatial scales. We find that, in the case of bull kelp forests, setting more favorable initial conditions for kelp recovery by implementing both urchin harvesting and kelp outplanting at the start of the restoration project has a bigger impact on the kelp recovery rate than applying restoration efforts through a longer period of time. Therefore, partial restoration efforts, in terms of spatial and temporal scale, can be significantly more effective when applied across multiple ecological scales in terms of both the capacity and rate for achieving the target outcomes.  more » « less
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Ecological Applications
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National Science Foundation
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