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Ecological Restoration in Model Communities (MODELECORESTORATION)
Start date: Oct 1, 2012, End date: Sep 30, 2014 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"The anthropogenic alteration of natural habitats is one of the main threats to global biodiversity. To reverse this process, ecological restoration is an attempt to return a system to some historical state, although the difficulty or impossibility of achieving this aim is widely recognized. This is in part due to restoration studies are mainly empirical and have been primarily focused on one or few species, thus not allowing to producing general predictions. In particular, restoration projects focus normally on some basic core of the target community, usually the dominant plant species, rarely considering the network of interacting species. This makes restoration ecology more of a descriptive science that still lacks a general theoretical underpinning. Using a network perspective, the present project seeks to study the ecology of the restoration process by evaluating differing restoration scenarios in terms of resilience and stability as well as in terms of measures of community structure. This will be achieved by generating model communities of interacting species. The models will define different restoration scenarios – i.e. passive vs. active restoration, different sequences of species addition – and will map diverse globally indices of restoration success for each scenario, so that cross-comparisons among scenarios will be possible. The goals of this project are: (1) to investigate the likelihood that certain ecological properties can be restored in a degraded community; (2) to study how much habitat is needed to be restored to restore some minimum level of robustness; and (3) to make predictions about what kind of communities are easier to restore or restore more rapidly, providing information about which ‘routes’ or sequences of species addition are more efficient to restore a community in terms of resilience and stability. In the final phase of the project, the theoretical predictions will be contrasted with real data on degraded vs. restored net"
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