Functional traits are used in restoration practice: a response to Merchant et al. (2022)

Elise S. Gornish, Carianne Campbell, Lauren Svejcar, Seth M. Munson, Kurt Vaughn, Michael K. Spaeth, Stephanie G. Yelenik, Ashlee Wolf, Rachel Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


A recent Restoration Ecology article by Merchant et al. (2022) suggested that practitioners do not regularly use functional traits in restoration planning. We disagree and provide our collective experience that practitioners do leverage trait-based approaches and information, but in ways that are different from researchers. Here, we provide an expanded perspective that incorporates practitioner voices to provide a more complete assessment of how traits are used in restoration practice. We highlight that a major challenge in the field of restoration ecology that leads to a disconnect between researchers and practitioners is a different set of knowledge systems, goals, incentives, and limitations. We provide approaches that researchers can use to connect with practitioners and leverage their knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13880
JournalRestoration Ecology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • land and natural resource management
  • local ecological knowledge
  • plant functional traits
  • restoration practitioners and stakeholders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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