The biology of land restoration

  • A. D. Bradshaw
Part of the Monographiae Biologicae book series (MOBI, volume 67)


Disturbance of land is an inevitable consequence of modern civilization which has resulted in a substantial “heritage” of degraded land on which the original ecosystems, plants, animals and soils have been totally destroyed. All that is left is skeletal soil material. The restoration of functional, self-sustaining ecosystems on these materials is a considerable challenge.

The problems of plant habitat degradation that have to be overcome can be separated into three sets: physical, nutritional, and toxicity. Although some of the treatments involve major engineering-oriented manipulations, long term success depends on understanding, copying, and harnessing the ecological and microevolutionary processes that occur in natural succession. This success depends on overcoming all the specific problems that occur within a site, which in turn depends upon a proper appreciation of all that is critical to ecosystem function as well as the demographic and genetic processes of adaptation. Scientific progress in the restoration of derelict lands requires an understanding of successional sequence of colonization, species’ autecology, and the dynamics of recruitment, and it is based on the population variability for metal tolerance or similar adaptive genetic criteria; therefore, both community and ecosystem level interactions among species must be investigated. Land restoration is therefore an acid test of our ecological understanding of adaptive processes at all three levels (communities, species, populations) in an integrative applied science.


Sewage Sludge Metal Tolerance Soil Animal Degraded Land Natural Succession 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. D. Bradshaw
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK

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