Does river restoration work? Taxonomic and functional trajectories at two restoration schemes

Judy England, Martin Wilkes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
61 Downloads (Pure)


Rivers and their floodplains have been severely degraded with increasing global activity and expenditure undertaken on restoration measures to address the degradation. Early restoration schemes focused on habitat creation with mixed ecological success. Part of the lack of ecological success can be attributed to the lack of effective monitoring. The current focus of river restoration practice is the restoration of physical processes and functioning of systems. The ecological assessment of restoration schemes may need to follow the same approach and consider whether schemes restore functional diversity in addition to taxonomic diversity. This paper examines whether two restoration schemes, on lowland UK rivers, restored macroinvertebrate taxonomic and functional (trait) diversity and relates the findings to the Bradshaw's model of ecological restoration. The study schemes are considered a success in terms of restoring physical processes, longitudinal connectivity and the resulting habitat composition. However, the rehabilitation of macroinvertebrate community structure and function was limited and inconsistent, varying over time, depending on the restoration measure applied and the taxonomic or functional index considered. Resampling of species pools at each site revealed a role for functional redundancy, meaning that increases in functional diversity are more difficult to achieve than outcomes based on taxonomic analyses. Our results highlight the usefulness of applying functional traits alongside taxonomic indices in evaluating river restoration projects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)961-970
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Science of The Total Environment. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Science of The Total Environment, [618, (2018)] DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.09.014

© 2018, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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