Ecological restoration is critical for climate and biodiversity resilience over the coming century. Today, there is strong evidence that wildlife can significantly influence the distribution and stoichiometry of elements across landscapes, with subsequent impacts on the composition and functioning of ecosystems. Consequently, any anthropogenic activity that modifies this important aspect of zoogeochemistry, such as changes to animal community composition, diet, or movement patterns, may support or hinder restoration goals. It is therefore imperative that the zoogeochemical effects of such anthropogenic modifications are quantified and mapped at high spatiotemporal resolutions to help inform restoration strategies. Here, we first discuss pathways through which human activities shape wildlife-mediated elemental landscapes and outline why current frameworks are inadequate to characterize these processes. We then suggest improvements required to comprehensively model, validate, and monitor element recycling and redistribution by wildlife under differing wildlife management scenarios and discuss how this might be implemented in practice through a specific example in the southern Kalahari Desert. With robust ecological forecasting, zoogeochemical impacts of wildlife can thus be used to support ecological restoration and nature-based solutions to climate change. If ignored in the restoration process, the effects of wildlife on elemental landscapes may delay, or even prevent, restoration success.
- ecosystem restoration
- ecosystem services
- nature-based solutions
- wildlife management
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation