Mexia, T., Antunes, C., Nunes, A., Mira, A., Correia, A.I., Serrano, A. & Correia, O (2020) Beyond the green: assessing quarry restoration success through plant and beetle communities.Restoration Ecology, Online early, . DOI:10.1111/rec.13122 (IF2018 2,826; Q3 Ecology)
In assessing the effectiveness of ecological restoration actions, outcomes evaluation using a multi‐taxa approach can greatly contribute to a clearer understanding of their success/failure. Since comprehensive biodiversity assessments are rarely possible, choosing taxa groups that are indicative of the ecosystem's structural and functional recovery is of major importance. Our goal was to evaluate the success of revegetation actions performed in a Mediterranean limestone quarry, using plants and epigean beetles as indicators. We compared their abundance, diversity, and community composition between revegetated sites aged 5, 13, and 19 years and a natural reference. Total plant cover significantly increased with restoration age and quickly reached reference values. However, native woody species cover dropped in the oldest site, while non‐native species became dominant. The abundance of beetles was always lower in restoration sites when compared to the reference, increasing with age, although not significantly. The richness of both plant species and beetle families was lower in restoration sites and did not show any trend towards the reference values. Finally, using nonmetric multidimensional scaling, the composition of plant and beetle communities from restoration sites showed a clear separation from the reference. Restoration efforts have successfully modified post‐quarry sites, but considerable differences remain, probably largely related to the use of the non‐native species Pinus halepensis in restoration plans. P. halepensis high cover in restoration sites greatly affects the structure of the ecosystem, and most likely its functioning too, as well as related ecosystem services, causing divergence from the reference values and compromising restoration success.