This undergraduate course combines lectures on key topics in restoration-relevant ecological theory with practitioner-led seminars that provide the opportunity to delve into current practice and critically assess lecture topics. While restoration ecology is a relatively new science, it has grown rapidly over the past 20 years – an inevitable consequence of increased human impact and exploitation of ecosystems as well as increased mandates for an ecosystem approach to adaptive management. As problems of biodiversity loss and environmental degradation increasingly enter the mainstream political agenda, policy makers and managers will be pushed to evaluate investment in restoration efforts. Likewise, restoration ecology will be more and more pressed to evaluate whether its science effectively informs both the goal-setting and success of management efforts.
Laboratory sessions focus on methods (sampling, data analysis) of science-based restoration management planning, and are specifically focused on coastal prairie habitat located at UC Berkeley’s Richmond Field Station. The keystone experience of the class will be to develop a restoration management plan for the coastal prairie at the Richmond Field Station (RFS). Each student will be assigned to be part of given focal resource team, addressing one focal resource (i.e., native plant species, soil, insects, invasive plants).
The project is divided into different stages, including a literature review, data collection plan, data analysis and overall assessment. At the end of the semester, students will give oral presentations on their projects, and the reports will be compiled into one master report that is submitted to organizations and people interested in the management of RFS coastal prairie.
ESPM 290: Graduate Seminar in Restoration Ecology
The seminar will focus on discussing core literature, sharing critiques of a broader set of current work, and identifying important gaps that could be incorporated into research programs. In fall 2010, the course was structured through the creation of a class blog. Every week, we read several core papers on a chosen topic. Then each student selected an additional paper and posted a critique of that paper on the course blog. Based on the critiques, students voted for an additional paper to round out their weekly reading. Overall, the class critiqued approximately 100 articles, which we compiled into an online annotated (Endnote) bibliography. A final project was to develop a list of the top ten papers in restoration ecology. In fall 2010, the project was developed into a paper “Insights from a Cross-Disciplinary Seminar: 10 Pivotal Papers for Ecological Restoration” published in the journal Restoration Ecology.
Eitzel, M.V., S. Diver, H. Sardiñas, L.M. Hallett, J.J. Olson, A. Romero, G.L.T. Oliveira, A.T. Schuknecht, R. Tidmore, and K.N. Suding. 2012. Top 10 Groundbreaking Papers in Restoration Ecology. Restoration Ecology 20: 147-152.
ESPM 298 Review of Ecological Restoration Primer
As a follow-up to the successes of the restoration ecology graduate seminar, Richard Hobbs, the editor-in-chief of Restoration Ecology, invited the group to participate in a critique of the Society of Ecological Restoration (SER) Primer. A dozen students, mostly from the original seminar group, accepted the task. Throughout the semester we evaluated the SER Primer attributes of a restored system and analyzed over 200 project records in the Global Restoration Network to discern how projects are meeting SER’s criteria. This analysis is currently in review in Restoration Ecology.