Barriers to ecosystem restoration presented by soil legacy effects of invasive alien N2-fixing woody species: implications for ecological restoration
van Wilgen, B.W.
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Impacts of invasive alien N2-fixing woody species and how they can persist as soil legacy effects after invasive species control are well appreciated, but how soil legacy effects can present barriers to restoration is poorly understood. Finding better ways to deal with these barriers to restoration is essential to improving restoration outcomes. In this study, we review 440 studies to identify barriers to restoration and potential management actions for the barriers to restoration, and provide practical application examples of the management actions. Our findings suggest that altered soil microbial communities, depleted native soil seed banks, elevated N status, secondary invasion and weedy native species dominance, and reinvasion are potential barriers to restoration. Furthermore, carbon addition, litter removal, soil microbial treatments, establishing species adapted to low N levels, prescribed burning, classical biological control, grazing, mowing, herbicide or graminicide application, manual weeding, soil N management, soil solarization, weed mats, native species reintroduction, and nurse plants are potential management actions for these barriers to restoration. However, there is little evidence suggesting that several of these barriers to restoration hinder improved restoration outcomes and this could be due to little research on them. More research is needed to assess their relative importance in hindering improved restoration outcomes. Management actions are rarely applied in combination, despite that they often address distinct barriers to restoration. Management actions should be combined into an integrated management effort to improve restoration outcomes.