Coastal habitats and the valuable services they provide humans have been degraded worldwide. Policy makers and practitioners are now asking whether large-scale habitat restoration can be used to counter these losses. The prevailing paradigm of marine restoration ecology is to restore ecosystems by reducing environmental stress (for example, pollution) and avoiding competition between outplants.
Our research challenges this theory and shows that designs that instead focus on harnessing mutually beneficial species interactions (for example, sea otter facilitation of seagrasses) have the potential to double restoration yields, at little or no extra cost, and greatly increase climate stress thresholds in outplants. These cost-reducing advances are likely to fundamentally change the accessibility and success of coastal habitat restoration worldwide.
Brian Silliman is the Rachel Carson Professor of Marine Conservation Biology. He holds both BA and MS degrees from the University of Virginia, and completed his PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Brown University.
In recognition of his research achievements, Silliman was named a Distinguished Fulbright Chair with the CSIRO in 2019; a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences in 2015; a Visiting Professor with the Royal Netherlands Society of Arts and Sciences in 2011; and David H Smith Conservation Fellow with The Nature Conservancy in 2004.
He has also received several awards, including the Young Investigator Award from the American Society of Naturalists (2006), a Young Investigator Grant Award from the Andrew Mellon Foundation (2007), and an NSF Career Grant Award (2011).
Dr. Silliman has published 21 book chapters and over 150 peer reviewed journal articles, and co-edited four books: Human Impacts on Salt Marshes: A Global Perspective (with T Grosholtz and MD Bertness); Marine Community Ecology (with M Bertness, J Bruno and J Stachowicz); Effective Conservation: Data not Dogma (with P Karieva and M Marvier) and Marine Disease Ecology(with D Behringer and K Lafferty).
His teaching and research are focused on community ecology, conservation and restoration, global change, plant–animal interactions, and evolution and ecological consequences of cooperative behaviour.
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