, Volume 781, Issue 1, pp 67–79 | Cite as

Responses of riparian plant communities and water quality after 8 years of passive ecological restoration using a BACI design

  • Isabelle Muller
  • Marion Delisle
  • Martine Ollitrault
  • Ivan Bernez


This study investigated the consequences of passive ecological restoration on a riparian habitat and on water quality. The restoration plan consists of excluding livestock by constructing fences along an entire stream 1 m from the stream bed, with the assumption that recovering riparian habitat will restore their ecological processes (e.g., filtration, soil stabilization). We measured responses of riparian plant communities and physico-chemical water quality. We presented data from an 8-year before-after control-impact design across a reference stream and a restored stream in a rural landscape in Normandy, France. Restoration appeared to modify plant communities. After 8 years of restoration, the restored stream had a complex riparian bank, similar to that of the reference stream, with an increase in the number of trees, a decrease in bare soil, and an increase in habitat heterogeneity. Despite this modification, water quality did not improve. The same low water quality in the reference stream demonstrated the need for a watershed-scale approach and for actions to improve agricultural practices before implementing restoration practices at a smaller scale. Nonetheless, the lack of improved water quality does not necessarily mean that the restoration failed. Other functions and services can be provided by excluding livestock.


BACI design Headwater Bundles of ecosystem services Passive ecological restoration Riparian plant communities Watershed Water quality 



This study started in the INTERREG IVB program (AARC) and was prolonged by the French National Agency for Water and Aquatic Environments (ONEMA). The long-term river monitoring was performed by the INRA U3E Unit, with the participation of Julien Tremblay, Jean-Pierre Destouches, and Frédéric Marchand. We are grateful to Jocelyn Champagnon, Marie Nevoux, and Stephan Stoll for fruitful statistical discussions. The authors would like to thank Michelle and Michael Corson for checking the English. Two anonymous reviewers greatly improved the quality of this paper with their comments.

Supplementary material

10750_2015_2349_MOESM1_ESM.pptx (71 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PPTX 70 kb) Mean and standard error of (A) species richness (15 m²), (B) bare soil (%), and (C) number of trees (15 m²) in the La Roche reference in 2010 (white bars, n=36 plots) and in 2012 (gray bars, n=36 plots). The t of Student tests and the W of the Wilcoxon tests performed are shown above the bars (NS: non-significant)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isabelle Muller
    • 1
  • Marion Delisle
    • 1
  • Martine Ollitrault
    • 2
  • Ivan Bernez
    • 1
  1. 1.INRA, Agrocampus Ouest, UMR 985 ESE Ecologie et Santé des EcosystèmesRennes CedexFrance
  2. 2.INRA Unité Expérimentale d’Ecologie et d’Ecotoxicologie AquatiqueRennes CedexFrance

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