Facilitation shifts paradigms and can amplify coastal Restoration efforts
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Restoration has been elevated as an important strategy to reverse the decline of coastal wetlands worldwide. Current practice in restoration science emphasizes minimizing competition between outplanted propagules to maximize planting success. This paradigm persists despite the fact that foundational theory in ecology demonstrates that positive species interactions are key to organism success under high physical stress, such as recolonization of bare substrate. As evidence of how entrenched this restoration paradigm is, our survey of 25 restoration organizations in 14 states in the United States revealed that >95% of these agencies assume minimizing negative interactions (i.e., competition) between outplants will maximize propagule growth. Restoration experiments in both Western and Eastern Atlantic salt marshes demonstrate, however, that a simple change in planting configuration (placing propagules next to, rather than at a distance from, each other) results in harnessing facilitation and increased yields by 107% on average. Thus, small adjustments in restoration design may catalyze untapped positive species interactions, resulting in significantly higher restoration success with no added cost. As positive interactions between organisms commonly occur in coastal ecosystems (especially in more physically stressful areas like uncolonized substrate) and conservation resources are limited, transformation of the coastal restoration paradigm to incorporate facilitation theory may enhance conservation efforts, shoreline defense, and provisioning of ecosystem services such as fisheries production.
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1073/pnas.1515297112
Publication InfoSilliman, BR; Schrack, E; He, Q; Cope, R; Santoni, A; van der Heide, T; ... van de Koppel, J (2015). Facilitation shifts paradigms and can amplify coastal Restoration efforts. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(46). pp. 14295-14300. 10.1073/pnas.1515297112. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/10811.
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Rachel Carson Distinguished Professor of Marine Affairs and Policy
Brian Silliman is the Rachel Carson Distinguished Professor of Marine Conservation Biology. He holds both B.A. and M.S. degrees from the University of Virginia, and completed his Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Brown University. In recognition of his research achievements, Silliman was named a Distinguished Fulbright Chair with CSIRO in 2019; a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences in 2015; a Visiting Professor with the Royal Netherlands Society of Arts