Applying lessons from ecological succession to the restoration of landslides

TitleApplying lessons from ecological succession to the restoration of landslides
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsWalker, LA, Velazquez, E, Shiels, AB
JournalPlant and Soil
Date Published11/2009
Accession NumberLUQ.917
KeywordsSoil fertility

Landslides are excellent illustrations of the dynamic interplay of disturbance and succession. Restoration is difficult on landslide surfaces because of the high degree of spatial and temporal heterogeneity in soil stability and fertility. Principles derived from more than a century of study of ecological succession can guide efforts to reduce chronic surface soil erosion and restore both biodiversity and ecosystem function. Promotion of the recovery of self-sustaining communities on landslides is feasible by stabilization with native ground cover, applications of nutrient amendments, facilitation of dispersal to overcome establishment bottlenecks, emphasis on functionally redundant species and promotion of connectivity with the adjacent landscape. Arrested succession through resource dominance by a single species can be beneficial if that species also reduces persistent erosion, yet the tradeoff is often reduced biodiversity. Restoration efforts can be streamlined by using techniques that promote successional processes.