The Value of Animal Behavior in Evaluations of Restoration Success
Animals are key members of ecosystems, contributing to processes like pollination, seed dispersal, and herbivory. Incorporating measures of animal behavior into evaluations of restoration success will provide critical information that is not available from animal species composition and richness estimates derived from the documentation of species presence and absence. Behavioral studies will (1) allow comparisons of the habitat quality of target and reference sites based on behaviors that have fitness consequences for organisms; (2) provide valuable information about reasons for differences in habitat quality; (3) identify critical resources that make a site suitable or not for particular species; and/or (4) provide information on the mechanisms through which species contribute to ecosystem functions. When resources for the evaluation of restoration success are available, practitioners should carefully consider the costs and benefits of the different variables they could quantify. In some cases, it may be more important to compare the behavior of one or a few critical animal species that contribute to ecosystem function rather than try to document the presence or absence of all species.