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Abstract

A major goal of population biologists involved in restoration work is to restore populations to a level that will allow them to persist over the long term within a dynamic landscape and include the ability to undergo adaptive evolutionary change. We discuss five research areas of particular importance to restoration biology that offer potentially unique opportunities to couple basic research with the practical needs of restorationists. The five research areas are: (1) the influence of numbers of individuals and genetic variation in the initial population on population colonization, establishment, growth, and evolutionary potential; (2) the role of local adaptation and life history traits in the success of restored populations; (3) the influence of the spatial arrangement of landscape elements on metapopulation dynamics and population processes such as migration; (4) the effects of genetic drift, gene flow, and selection on population persistence within an often accelerated, successional time frame; and (5) the influence of interspecific interactions on population dynamics and community development. We also provide a sample of practical problems faced by practitioners, each of which encompasses one or more of the research areas discussed, and that may be solved by addressing fundamental research questions.