Professor Susan M. Galatowitsch
Although restoration has been pursued for more than 50 years in the U.S., we know very little about how to restore most ecosystems so they resemble natural (i.e., not previously converted) ones. Most restorations receive little or no tracking of their success. In fact, many non-regulatory restoration programs nationwide record a project a success on the day of construction or planting; regulatory programs will make this determination 3 to 5 years later. Consequently, the practice of ecological restoration has been more influenced by minimizing time and costs than by an understanding of ecological processes.
My team’s research has emphasized five themes related to restoration ecology: 1) understanding limitations to community reassembly, 2) improving revegetation practices, 3) developing approaches for pre- and post- restoration assessments, 4) developing invasive species removal strategies and enhancing post-removal recovery enhancing ecosystem recovery after invasive species removal, and 5) assessing risks of introduced aquatic plants. Most of our work has focused on research in the prairie pothole wetlands within the agricultural landscapes of the Midwestern U.S. However, we have pursued research on each of these topics in other regions and systems, as well. Recently, we have begun to explore how climate change might need to affect restoration decision-making.