Tropical Montane Forest Restoration in Costa Rica: Overcoming Barriers to Dispersal and Establishment
Due to the rapid pace of tropical deforestation, it is essential to design restoration experiments that both further basic knowledge of tropical ecology and inform management strategies to facilitate recovery of these ecosystems. This study synthesizes the results of recent research on tropical montane forest recovery in abandoned pasture in Costa Rica to address limitations on tropical forest recovery in abandoned pasture and designing strategies to facilitate ecosystem recovery.
research goals & methods
A number of factors impede tropical forest recovery in abandoned pasture land. The most important barriers are lack of dispersal of forest seeds and seed- ling competition with pasture grasses. High seed predation, low seed germination, lack of nutrients, high light intensity, and seedling herbivory also affect recovery. Successful strategies to facilitate recovery in abandoned pastures must simultaneously overcome numerous obstacles.
Establishment of woody species, either native tree seedlings or early-successional shrubs, can be successful in facilitating recovery, by enhancing seed dispersal and shading out pasture grasses. On the contrary, bird perching structures alone are not an effective strategy, because they only serve to enhance seed dispersal but do not reduce grass cover. Remnant pasture trees can serve as foci of natural recovery and may enhance growth of planted seedlings.
conclusions & takeaways
This study highlights the importance of understanding the basic biology of an ecosystem to design effective restoration strategies, and comparing results across a range of sites to determine which restoration strategies are most generally useful.
Tropical Montane Forest Restoration in Costa Rica: Overcoming Barriers to Dispersal and Establishment. Restoration Ecology. 2000;8:339–349. doi:10.1046/j.1526-100x.2000.80049.x..
- Department of Environmental Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA, U.S.A.
- Department of Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA, U.S.A.