, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 35-44
Date: 12 Aug 2010

Remembering our roots: A possible connection between loss of ecological memory, alien invasions and ecological restoration

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Abstract

When a community or ecosystem is lost, some of its properties may remain, leaving behind an ecological memory. The soil properties, spores, seeds, stem fragments, mycorrhizae, species, populations and other remnants of the previous inhabitants contribute to shaping the replacement community and building a new ecosystem. The loss of ecological memory for the natural stability domain of a site reduces ecosystem resilience and enables alien invasive species to become established more easily. These invasives may eventually create a new ecosystem with its own ecological memory and resilience. These new ecosystems are described here as novel ecosystems and are placed in the context of adaptive cycles. Ecological restoration of urban ecosystems requires removing the ecological legacy of invasive alien species. To be successful, invasive species control must address both internal within patch memory of invasives and external between patch memory. The restoration of Garry oak ecosystems (Quercus garryana), by students of the Restoration of Natural Systems Program at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, and a number of other examples are presented here that highlight why ecological memory is especially important in urban ecosystems.