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Rewilding with invertebrates and microbes to restore ecosystems: present trends and future directions
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  • Peter Contos,
  • Jennifer Wood,
  • Nicholas Murphy,
  • Heloise Gibb
Peter Contos
La Trobe University College of Science Health and Engineering
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Jennifer Wood
La Trobe University College of Science Health and Engineering
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Nicholas Murphy
La Trobe University College of Science Health and Engineering
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Heloise Gibb
La Trobe University College of Science Health and Engineering
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Abstract

1. Restoration ecology has historically focused on reconstructing communities of highly visible taxa whilst less visible taxa, such as invertebrates and microbes, are ignored. This is problematic as invertebrates and microbes make up the vast bulk of biodiversity and drive many key ecosystem processes, yet they are rarely actively reintroduced following restoration, potentially limiting ecosystem function and biodiversity in these areas. 2. In this review, we discuss the current (limited) incorporation of invertebrates and microbes in restoration and rewilding projects. We argue that these groups should be actively rewilded during restoration to improve biodiversity and ecosystem function outcomes and highlight how they can be used to greater effect in the future. For example, invertebrates and microbes are easily manipulated, meaning whole communities can potentially be rewilded through habitat transplants in a practice that we refer to as “whole-of-community” rewilding. 3. We provide a framework for whole-of-community rewilding and describe empirical case studies as practical applications of this under-researched restoration tool that land managers can use to improve restoration outcomes. 4. We hope this new perspective on whole-of-community restoration will promote applied research into restoration that incorporates all biota, irrespective of size, whilst also enabling a better understanding of fundamental ecological theory, such as colonisation- competition trade-offs. This may be a necessary consideration as invertebrates that are important in providing ecosystem services are declining globally; targeting invertebrate communities during restoration may be crucial in stemming this decline.

Peer review status:ACCEPTED

28 Mar 2021Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
29 Mar 2021Assigned to Editor
29 Mar 2021Submission Checks Completed
31 Mar 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
06 Apr 2021Editorial Decision: Accept