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      Species richness accelerates marine ecosystem restoration in the Coral Triangle

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          Abstract

          <p id="d13063693e240">The exceptional diversity of species in the coral reefs, seagrass meadows, and mangrove forests of the Coral Triangle and the many ecological functions and benefits to humans they provide have made them a high priority for conservation and fisheries management. Nevertheless, their degradation continues and calls for effective restoration. In an experimental restoration, we demonstrated that planting mixtures of diverse seagrass species improves their overall survival and growth and thus the trajectory toward successful restoration. Incorporating species diversity into restoration heralds a shift in practice from establishing a single founder species, and recognizes the widely documented positive effects that biodiversity has on ecosystem function and services. Biodiversity is often a restoration goal, but it also promises a means to improve success. </p><p class="first" id="d13063693e243">Ecosystem restoration aims to restore biodiversity and valuable functions that have been degraded or lost. The Coral Triangle is a hotspot for marine biodiversity held in its coral reefs, seagrass meadows, and mangrove forests, all of which are in global decline. These coastal ecosystems support valuable fisheries and endangered species, protect shorelines, and are significant carbon stores, functions that have been degraded by coastal development, destructive fishing practices, and climate change. Ecosystem restoration is required to mitigate these damages and losses, but its practice is in its infancy in the region. Here we demonstrate that species diversity can set the trajectory of restoration. In a seagrass restoration experiment in the heart of the Coral Triangle (Sulawesi, Indonesia), plant survival and coverage increased with the number of species transplanted. Our results highlight the positive role biodiversity can play in ecosystem restoration and call for revision of the common restoration practice of establishing a single target species, particularly in regions having high biodiversity. Coastal ecosystems affect human well-being in many important ways, and restoration will become ever more important as conservation efforts cannot keep up with their loss. </p>

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          Most cited references 61

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          Enhancement of biodiversity and ecosystem services by ecological restoration: a meta-analysis.

          Ecological restoration is widely used to reverse the environmental degradation caused by human activities. However, the effectiveness of restoration actions in increasing provision of both biodiversity and ecosystem services has not been evaluated systematically. A meta-analysis of 89 restoration assessments in a wide range of ecosystem types across the globe indicates that ecological restoration increased provision of biodiversity and ecosystem services by 44 and 25%, respectively. However, values of both remained lower in restored versus intact reference ecosystems. Increases in biodiversity and ecosystem service measures after restoration were positively correlated. Results indicate that restoration actions focused on enhancing biodiversity should support increased provision of ecosystem services, particularly in tropical terrestrial biomes.
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            Mangrove Forests: One of the World's Threatened Major Tropical Environments

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              Genetic diversity enhances the resistance of a seagrass ecosystem to disturbance.

              Motivated by recent global reductions in biodiversity, empirical and theoretical research suggests that more species-rich systems exhibit enhanced productivity, nutrient cycling, or resistance to disturbance or invasion relative to systems with fewer species. In contrast, few data are available to assess the potential ecosystem-level importance of genetic diversity within species known to play a major functional role. Using a manipulative field experiment, we show that increasing genotypic diversity in a habitat-forming species (the seagrass Zostera marina) enhances community resistance to disturbance by grazing geese. The time required for recovery to near predisturbance densities also decreases with increasing eelgrass genotypic diversity. However, there is no effect of diversity on resilience, measured as the rate of shoot recovery after the disturbance, suggesting that more rapid recovery in diverse plots is due solely to differences in disturbance resistance. Genotypic diversity did not affect ecosystem processes in the absence of disturbance. Thus, our results suggest that genetic diversity, like species diversity, may be most important for enhancing the consistency and reliability of ecosystems by providing biological insurance against environmental change.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proc Natl Acad Sci USA
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                November 07 2017
                November 07 2017
                : 114
                : 45
                : 11986-11991
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.1707962114
                5692552
                29078320
                4dc90d56-75d1-4c6f-866a-c950cf13f5cc
                © 2017

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