2. Generalized Conservation Threats to Remnant-Dependent Insect Communities in Highly Fragmented Landscapes
2.1. Small Population Size
2.2. Population Isolation/Disrupted Population Dynamics
2.3. Inappropriately Scaled Disturbance Regimes/Ecological Processes
2.4. Future Predicted Climate Regimes
3. Application of Generalized Restoration Strategies at Real-World Conservation Sites
3.1. Kankakee Sands
3.1.1. Site Description
3.1.2. Small Population Size
- Additional habitats adjacent to ecosystem remnants would be restored to increase available habitat for r-d insect communities. Note that the scale of this “restoration for habitat expansion for insects” was overridden by the demands for restoring connectivity at the site and by the habitat needs of density dependent grassland birds  and by the need to address connectivity across the site.
- Hydrology would be restored to capture the entire range of habitats used by r-d species. R-d insects at the site use habitats that range from xeric sand dunes to seasonally flooded wet prairie. Adjacent to the remnants, wetlands and mesic habitats had been drained to accommodate agricultural production. To the greatest extent possible we restored hydrology to bring back emergent wetland hydrology, allowing the restoration of a diverse range of habitats types across the entire hydrological gradient.
- The entire native plant community would be planted into the restoration. Because many r-d insect species are presumed to be monophagous, and we do not know hostplant requirements for all species, we decided to restore all native vascular plant species known from the three ecosystem remnants into the restoration. Seeds and plugs for 621 species have been planted in appropriate hydrologic zones to kick-start ecological healing for the entire botanical community in an attempt to establish hostplants for all potential r-d insects.
- Local genotype plant materials are exclusively used for the restoration. While this criterion is in part based on our desire to conserve local plant ecotypes, an underlying concern involves co-evolutionary relationships with native insect communities at regional scales. While we don’t know for certain if local insect populations are adapted to local plant populations, the conservative approach is to assure that we do not disrupt any local adaptations that may have evolved locally.
3.1.3. Population Isolation/Disrupted Population Dynamics
3.1.4. Inappropriately Scaled Disturbance Regimes
3.1.5. Future Predicted Climate Regimes
3.2. Houghton Lake Wetlands
3.2.1. Site Description
3.2.2. Small Population Size
- Hydrology would be restored to maximize groundwater flow into the lake basin and adjacent drained wetlands to restore wetland hydrology to adjacent drained muck soils. Fens are fed by alkaline groundwater discharges, but agricultural practices intercepted groundwater and diverted it away from the lake and surrounding fields (Figure 5). As best as possible, groundwater flow was restored to enhance subsurface recharge of surrounding muck soils at the site in an attempt to recreate appropriate conditions for fen and sedge meadow restoration. In agricultural fields surrounding the wetland, we filled ditches and removed tile drainage to the maximum extent possible. This included creating upland basins which captured overland flow in order to increase infiltration of surface water flow into near-surface ground water flow. In addition, the Houghton Lake outfall was raised to help re-wet muck soils surrounding the wetlands (Figure 7).
- For fen habitat, the entire native plant community would be seeded into the restoration. Because the fen is assumed to support r-d species that are monophagous, we seeded as many of the known vascular plant species as possible into the restoration. This included over 110 species planted as seed over bare soil. Because sedges often do not establish well from seed, we planted approximately 10,000 plugs of late-successional rhizominous Carex species to aid in the initial establishment of sedge meadows habitat. The agricultural uplands surrounding wetlands were not restored as r-d insect habitat. Because no remnant upland grasslands persisted at the site, there was no concern for r-d insects in this habitat type. Uplands were restored to meet habitat criteria for regionally rare vertebrates known to occur at the site and to facilitate groundwater recharge. Uplands were planted at a relatively low cost to moderate diversity grasslands.
- Local genotype plant materials are exclusively used for the restoration of fen habitats. Similar to Kankakee Sands, we desire to conserve local plant ecotypes and potential coevolutionary relationships with native insect communities. Seeds for many species were collected on site from sedge meadow and fen for use in the adjacent restorations.
3.2.3. Future Predicted Climate Regimes
Conflicts of Interest
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