Urban ecosystem restoration that integrates native wetland, prairie, and forest ecotones to maximise ecosystem function

Michael Rawson Clark
Clark Ecoscience and Sustainability
Michael holds a MSc. in plant ecology from the University of Alberta and has nine years of experience rebuilding native ecosystems. His background is in Environmental Biology (BSc), where he specialized in wetlands. His efforts run from designing the ecosystems with other professionals (e.g., engineers), to work ensuring successful ecosystem rebuilding in the field, laboratories and greenhouses. Michael’s on site capabilities include assessing the landscape, soil, water, ecology and other ecosystem aspects that will support plant communities. Michael’s greenhouse work experience includes both basic plant production and scientific greenhouse studies. Both have required his time manipulating moisture, soils, fertilizers and other variables to produce plants. Many high-quality industry and academic partners have been involved in collaborations with him. Michael has co-authored scientific and technical papers about organizations adapting sustainability practices, invasive species diversity, terrestrial and aquatic ecology, and rebuilding native ecosystems.
Other presenters/researchers: 
Sascha Bachmann. Sascha holds a MSc. in forest biology and management from the University of Alberta and has ample experience in boreal forest restoration. The focus of his studies was on vegetation and forest regeneration assessments and designed a forest floor protection plan. Relying on soil conservation he used the native propagule bank to restore aspen-white spruce over,-and understory. Prior, he assisted in investigations of succession and re-establishment of Alberta native wetland communities. His background is in forest management (BSc) with exposure to forest-ecological and socio-economic considerations, biodiversity conservation management, forest and wildlife management, and landscape development for recreational use. At Clark Ecoscience he develops integrated pest management plans, assesses ecosystem health and value and monitors vegetation development. He also actively engages in restoration efforts and R&D to improve ecosystem function and services through the use of soil amendments and diversification of vegetation communities. Additional Contributors: Arezoo Amini, University of Alberta; Derek MacKenzie, University of Alberta; Cindy Paszkowski, University of Alberta; Arthur Whiting, University of Alberta.

Edmonton’s first rebuilt native ecosystem within a storm water management facility (SWMF) mimics local table-lands with natural soil profiles to maximize ecosystem function and services. Wetland, Rough-Fescue Prairie and Aspen mixedwood forest aspects were emulated based on reference studies and pre-disturbance soil assessments for each habitat type to create stepping stones connecting the Larch Park SWMF with neighboring ravines. Over 77 graminoid, forb, shrub and tree species were incorporated into plant community development to create a self-sustaining system. We are investigating how plant reproductive strategies, plant diversity, productivity (above and belowground competition) can influence the rebuilding success. Our research focusses on the resilience of rhizomatous plant communities to alien species invasion. We also hypothesize that soil chemistry under rhizomatous plants will become more similar to native ecosystems than areas with plants that reproduce with flowers alone. This research is based on five years of monitoring a novel ecosystem.

Poster Division: