All roads lead to Rome: Convergence in the woody community assembly of different tropical forest restoration systems after 20 years

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Vera Lex Engel

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The capacity of planted species for promoting the natural regeneration of native species during restoration of tropical forests has been emphasized in many studies over the last few decades. It is believed that differences in the composition and structure of the canopy will lead to different assembly trajectories in the regenerating community by changing biotic and abiotic filters. We compared the woody vegetation (trees, shrubs and lianas) colonizing seven different active restoration systems (ranging from 5-40 tree species being planted), in two sites with contrasting soil fertility and landscape characteristics, established 20 years before. A reference forest fragment near each experimental site was also surveyed. We included all individuals with DBH (diameter at breast height) ≤ 5 cm for trees and ≤ 3 cm for climbers.  After 20 years, the restoration system and sites showed differences in forest structure, yield, and species diversity for the canopy species. Nevertheless, restoration systems had no effect in the structure and composition of the natural regeneration community, either for bush/tree species and lianas. The number of tree species regenerating within the plots ranged from 93 to 126, plus 40 species of lianas.  We found remarkable differences for trees and lianas only between sites and between restored x reference forests. We concluded that site and landscape effects are stronger than restoration design for community assembly, and planted trees might have a major role in changing abiotic filters. These findings have implications for the design of restoration systems for tropical regions that might accomplish multiple services.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Society for Ecological Restoration