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Animal Biodiversity at Nachusa Grasslands

Cite this dataset

Guiden, Peter (2021). Animal Biodiversity at Nachusa Grasslands [Dataset]. Dryad.


A primary goal of ecological restoration is to increase biodiversity in degraded ecosystems. However, the success of restoration ecology is often assessed by measuring the response of a single functional group or trophic level to restoration, without considering how restoration affects multitrophic interactions that shape biodiversity. An ecosystem-wide approach to restoration is therefore necessary to understand whether animal responses to restoration, such as changes in biodiversity, are facilitated by changes in plant communities (plant-driven effects) or disturbance and succession resulting from restoration activities (management-driven effects). Furthermore, most restoration ecology studies focus on how restoration alters taxonomic diversity, while less attention is paid to the response of functional and phylogenetic diversity in restored ecosystems. Here, we compared the strength of plant-driven and management-driven effects of restoration on four animal communities (ground beetles, dung beetles, snakes, and small mammals) in a chronosequence of restored tallgrass prairie, where sites varied in management history (prescribed fire and bison reintroduction). Our analyses indicate that management-driven effects on animal communities were six-times stronger than effects mediated through changes in plant biodiversity. Additionally, we demonstrate that restoration can simultaneously have positive and negative effects on biodiversity through different pathways, which may help reconcile variation in restoration outcomes. Furthermore, animal taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity responded differently to restoration, suggesting that restoration plans might benefit from considering multiple dimensions of animal biodiversity. We conclude that metrics of plant diversity alone may not be adequate to assess the success of restoration in reassembling functional ecosystems.