Listening to ecosystems allows us to make some assessment of natural systems at a meta level that reveals synergisms and intangibles difficult to articulate and/or analyze scientifically, but are nevertheless critical to ecological restoration. It is not uncommon for restoration projects to encounter ecological surprises that prevent an ecosystem from fully recovering. Conventional, on-the-ground assessment of abiotic and biotic conditions may fail to uncover feedbacks, community dynamics, spatial connectivity, and temporal lags. Given the limitations of what science can offer and the lack of time and resources to conduct longitudinal studies, we are often faced with residual ecosystem uncertainties. In these situations, it may be useful for restorationists to consider other techniques to develop an understanding of a site. When we listen to an ecosystem, we actively search out the uniqueness of that location. Factors such as the ecological memory of the soil (nutrients, compaction, seed banks, allelopaths, etc.) and the provenance of the plants may have an impact on the response to current or future site conditions resulting from climate change and the relevance of a reference ecosystem as a restoration target. Listening to ecosystems encourages us to consider the art of ecological restoration. Doing this should result in fewer surprises in some of our restoration projects.


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pp. 3-9
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