Northern Illinois University DeKalb, Illinois, United States
Amid the biodiversity crisis, species are going extinct at rates higher than any point in the last ten million years, with many species expected to go extinct in upcoming decades. As a response to this time-sensitive crisis, an international push by the United Nations to restore ecosystems globally on land and sea has declared 2021-2030 the “Decade on Ecosystem Restoration”. As the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration continues, comprehensive measurements quantifying changes in biodiversity (across taxa) are vital to understand current progress and further estimate the potential of unified and active global ecosystem restoration efforts. Our study uses a meta-analysis of 187 studies to quantify how restoration efforts have affected the diversity of degraded ecosystems globally over the last 30 years. We used response ratios to calculate how diversity changed throughout restoration projects. Response ratios were calculated as (ln(starting diversity/ending diversity)) for each paper.
Among our 187 studies, the effects of restoration on diversity were most commonly studied for invertebrate species (49%) and vegetation (41%), but also include other life forms such as bird/fish (7%), algae/bryophytes (6%), etc. Preliminary results suggest restoration efforts (both active and passive restoration) increased diversity, but magnitude varies by taxa. Thus, depending on restoration efficacy in facilitating diversity across taxa, unified global efforts is essential to preventing mass extinctions and reversing the current biodiversity crisis. Likewise, monitoring progress already made in the last 30 years since the rise of restoration ecology can help us estimate the power of restoration efforts to restore ecosystems in decades to come.