Scientific research has advanced our knowledge of the impacts of global change on ecosystems. Comparatively, however, it remains unclear how ecosystem assemble and recover after perturbations. This is in part due to the fact that most studies investigating assembly and recovery dynamics focus on single aspects of ecosystems (species richness, species interactions and single fluxes of matter or energy), hindering our understanding of the general relationships and feedbacks between the structure, functioning and stability of ecosystems. Thus, restoration ecology still lacks a sound, generalized theoretical foundation based on community and ecosystems ecology theory (e.g. food webs, metacommunities and metaecosystems, biodiversity-ecosystem functioning). To fully understand these relationships and how they change along recovery gradients, studies which encompass several aspects of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning simultaneously are needed. My work aims to use models, datasets and field experiments, to investigate ecosystem recovery dynamics, to identify the factors that lead (and do not lead) to successful ecosystem recovery and, more generally, to move restoration ecology from a site- and situation-specific discipline to a more globally applicable science.