Restoration of Pasture to Forest in Brazil's Mata Atlântica: The Roles of Herbivory, Seedling Defenses, and Plot Design in Reforestation
In this study, seedling growth and herbivory were monitored during the first 4 years of plot development in a large-scale reforestation experiment in Brazil’s Atlantic Rainforest (Mata Atlantica).
Research goals & methods
Seedlings were planted to test two levels of density, three levels of diversity, and the presence or absence of pioneer species. In addition, the effect of herbivory on seedling growth and the potential for plant defenses to limit herbivory was measured. Seedling growth was higher in the low-density plantings, and seedlings attained the greatest height in the low-diversity plots, which had a higher density of fast-growing species. The inclusion of pioneer species resulted in a significant decrease in the growth of other seedlings when co-planted. Defenses such as saponins and leaf toughness reduced herbivory, but when herbivory was high, seedling growth was reduced.
Conclusions & takeaways
To limit insect damage and promote seedling success, plant defense characteristics and ecological interactions should be carefully considered in reforestation projects.
Restoration of Pasture to Forest in Brazil\textquotesingles Mata Atlântica: The Roles of Herbivory, Seedling Defenses, and Plot Design in Reforestation. Restoration Ecology. 2010;19:257–267. doi:10.1111/j.1526-100x.2010.00683.x..
- Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, U.S.A.
- Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany
- Reserva Natural Vale, Linhares, Brazil
- Department of Biology, University of Nevada, Reno, NV, U.S.A.