Bagget, L.P, Powers, S.P. + 14 others. 2015. Setting guidelines for monitoring and evaluating the performance of oyster habitat restoration projects. Restoration Ecology
Lack of adequate monitoring and the absence of a more universal set of performance metrics are common criticisms of many restoration projects. While funding limitations is an often cited cause, the diversity of restoration goals is also a serious impediment. Here, using restoration of oyster reef habitat, we illustrate how a common set of universal metrics can be adopted for projects with a diverse set of goals. In response to the current diversity in the monitoring of oyster restoration projects, a working group was formed to develop standardized monitoring metrics, units and performance criteria that would allow for comparison among restoration sites and projects of various construction types. After a 2011 workshop and subsequent discussions at national and regional conferences, as well as a lengthy public comment period, the working group put forth a national guidance handbook with recommendations for the consistent monitoring of oyster restoration projects. The handbook includes a set of Universal Metrics to be monitored for all oyster habitat restoration projects regardless of their goal(s), as well as Restoration Goal-Based Metrics that are specific to commonly cited ecosystem service-based restoration goals. Additionally, the working group provided guidance for a set of Universal Environmental Variables, to be monitored for every restoration project, and an optional set of ancillary metrics that could provide information useful to the interpretation of pre-and post-restoration monitoring data. Widespread adoption of a common set of metrics with standardized techniques and units to assess well-defined goals not only allows practitioners to gauge the performance of their own projects, but also allows for comparison among projects, which is essential to the advancement of the field of oyster restoration.