Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 35–44 | Cite as

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



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.


Ecological memory Ecological restoration Resilience Alien invasive species 


  1. Alberti M, Marzluff JM (2004) Ecological resilience in urban ecosystems: linking urban patterns to human and ecological functions. Urban Ecosyst 7(3):241–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andersson E (2006) Urban landscapes and sustainable cities. Ecology and Society 11(1):34 (online) URL: http://www.ecology and society.org/vol11/iss1/art34/
  3. Bengtsson J, Angelstam P, Elmqvist T, Emanuelsson U, Folke C, Ihse M, Moberg F, Nystrom M (2003) Reserves, resilience and dynamic landscapes. Ambio 32:389–396PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Benowicz A, Guy RD, El-Kassaby YA (2000) Geographic pattern of genetic variation in photosynthetic capacity and growth in two hardwood species from British Columbia. Ecologia 123(2):168–174Google Scholar
  5. Bossard C (2000) Cytisus scoparius. In: Bossard C, Randall M, Hoshovsky M (eds) Invasive plants of California’s Wildlands. University of California Press, Los Angeles, pp 145–149Google Scholar
  6. Burton C, Huff V, Hebda RJ, Schaefer V (2006) Grasses of Northern Interior British Columbia. Phase I: Report on current state of botanical and restoration knowledge. Prepared for the BC Ministry of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources, Oil and Gas Commission. University of Victoria. p 105Google Scholar
  7. Clausen J (1964) Population studies of alpine and subalpine races of conifers and willows in the California high Sierra Nevada. Evolution 19:56–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cuddington K, Wilson WG, Hastings A (eds) (2007) Ecosystem engineers—plants to protists. Academic, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  9. Garry Oak Ecosystem Recovery Team (2002) Scotch broom, Cytisus scoparius. Invasive species in Garry oak ecosystems fact sheet. Victoria, BCGoogle Scholar
  10. Garry Oak Ecosystem Recovery Team (2004) Garry Oak ecosystem recovery team brochure. Victoria, BCGoogle Scholar
  11. Gobster PH (2005) Invasive species as an ecological threat: is restoration an alternative to fear-based resource management? Ecol Restor 23(4):261–270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gunderson L (2000) Ecological resilience—in theory and application. Ann Rev Ecol Syst 31:425–439CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hanski I (1999) Metapopulation ecology. Oxford University Press, UKGoogle Scholar
  14. Hobbs RJ, Salvatore A, Aronson J, Baron JS, Bridgewater P, Cramer VA, Epstein PR, Ewel JJ (2006) Novel ecosystems: theoretical and management aspects of the new ecological world order. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 15:1–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Holling CA (2001) Understanding the complexity of economic, ecological and social systems. Ecosystems 3:390–405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Huff V (2010) From reclamation to restoration: native grass species for revegetation in Northeast British Columbia. M.Sc. Thesis. University of Victoria (in prep)Google Scholar
  17. Janssen MA (2001) An immune system perspective on ecosystem management. Cons. Biol. 5(1):13. (online) URL: http://www.consecol.org/vol5/iss1/art13.Google Scholar
  18. Kral R (1993) Pinus. Flora of North America editorial committee (eds.): Flora of North America North of Mexico, Vol. 2. Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
  19. Laggoune LS, Boutaghane N, Kabouche A, Kabouche Z, Ait-Kaki Z, Ait-Kaki B (2008) Components and antimicrobial activity of Lamium amplexicaule from Algeria. Chem Nat Compd 44(3):363–364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Myers N (1993) Biodiversity and the precautionary principle. Ambio 22:74–79Google Scholar
  21. Myers JH, Bazely DR (2003) Ecology and control of introduced plants. Cambridge University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Naeem S, Knops JMH, Tilman D, Howe KM, Kennedy T, Gale S (2000) Plant diversity increases resistance to invasion in the absence of covarying extrinsic factors. Oikos 91(1):97–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Nystrom M, Folke C (2001) Spatial resilience of coral reefs. Ecosystems 4:406–417CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Peterson GD (2002) Contagious disturbance, ecological memory, and the emergence of landscape pattern. Ecosystems 5:329–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Polis GA, Anderson WB, Holt RD (1997) Toward an integration of landscape and food web ecology: the dynamics of spatially subsidized food webs. Ann Rev Ecol Syst 28:289–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Rudd H, Vala J, Schaefer VH (2002) The importance of backyard habitat in a comprehensive biodiversity conservation strategy—a connectivity analysis of urban green spaces. Restor Ecol 10(2):368–375CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Schaefer VH (1999) The green links project: a holistic approach to habitat restoration in cities. Ecol Restor Ecol Restor 17(4):250–251Google Scholar
  28. Temperton VM, Hobbs RJ (2004) The search for ecological assembly rules and its relevance to restoration ecology. In: Assembly Rules and Restoration Ecology: Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice. Temperton VM, Hobbs RJ, Nuttle TJ, Halle S. (eds.). Island Press Washington, DC:34–54Google Scholar
  29. Turner MG, Baker WL, Petterson CJ, Peet RK (1998) Factors influencing succession: lessons from large, infrequent natural disturbances. Ecosystems 1:511–523CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Vitousek PM, D’Antonio CM, Loope LL, Rejmanek M, Westbrooks R (1997) Introduced species: a significant component of human-caused global change. NZ J Ecol 21(1):1–16Google Scholar
  31. Walker BH, Gunderson LH, Kinzig AP, Folke C. Carpenter SR, and Schultz L (2006) A handful of heuristics and some propositions for understanding resilience in social-ecological systems. Ecology and Society 11(1): 13. http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol11/iss1/art13.
  32. Weiher E, Keddy P (eds) (1999) Ecological assembly rules: perspe4ctives, advances, retreats. Cambridge University Press, NYGoogle Scholar
  33. Wu J, Loucks OL (1995) From balance of nature to heirarchical patch dynamics: a paradigm shift in ecology. Q Rev Biol 70(4):439–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environmental StudiesUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

Personalised recommendations