I have been working for some time with stakeholders on small serpentine barren grasslands in the eastern United States. These are well documented ecosystems systems with well understood species compositions which vary between site, but share a vast majority of species. All of the sites I work on, as well as essential all sites of the type, have suffered habitat degradation and loss due to forest encroachment, invasive species, intensive deer browse, and soil chemistry changes. The sites that I have been working on basically have no formal management other than what I have prescribed.
One of the items we have targeted for management is the reintroduction of species which are found on serpentine barrens. Selected species would be non-aggressive native grassland species, such as Solidago rugosa, Ageratina aromatica, and Aristida oligantha. The introductions would be by seed on rehabilitated soil-scrapped sites. Seeds would be gathered from serpentine or local grassland sites within 20 miles.
The purpose of these introductions would be to increase the biodiversity of the site and to protect local ecotypes by assisted reproductions. With greater biodiversity, we believe that the site will better weather changes to the site due to changed management regime and climate-related changes. Additionally, new species may offer novel ecosystem services.
My question is this: in this space, working with these sites, what are the potential concerns/upsides of introducing selected species? I know that these are site dependent calls to be made, but I would be interested in a wider discussion about ethics, ecology, and management decision making.