Barriers to Forest Regeneration of Deforested and Abandoned Land in Panama

Barriers to Forest Regeneration of Deforested and Abandoned Land in Panama


This article presents research findings on the effect of four limiting factors on tree regeneration: competition with the exotic grass Saccharum spontanaeum, seed dispersal limitation, fire, and soil nutrient deficiency.

Research Goals & Methods

Treatments included prescribed grass cutting and burning, as well as the placement of plots at different distances from adjacent forest.

Conclusions & Takeaways

Cutting of Saccharum increased light levels and reduced above-ground competition faced by regenerating trees.The regeneration of species at 10m from forest was significantly higher than the regeneration at 35m, and regeneration was higher under monocots and remnant vegetation than in the open Saccharum grass. Fire was a major limitation, reducing species richness and the viability of the seed bank. Although nitrogen was lower in the grassland than in forest, the authors assert that soil nutrients were probably not a limiting factor in the natural regeneration of tree species. The authors suggest that forest managers maintain firebrakes and plant trees to shade out the Saccharum and attract seed dispersers.



HOOPER ELAINE, Legendre P, Condit R. Barriers to forest regeneration of deforested and abandoned land in Panama. Journal of Applied Ecology. 2005;42:1165–1174. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2005.01106.x.


  • Department of Biology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Department de sciences biologiques, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  • Center for Tropical Forest Science, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, USA