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Comparing the recovery of richness, structure, and biomass in naturally regrowing and planted reforestation

Published on Mar 1, 2020in Restoration Ecology2.826
· DOI :10.1111/REC.13077
Timothy L. Staples4
Estimated H-index: 4
(UQ: University of Queensland),
Margaret M. Mayfield28
Estimated H-index: 28
(UQ: University of Queensland)
+ 1 AuthorsJohn M. Dwyer19
Estimated H-index: 19
(UQ: University of Queensland)
Abstract
The clearing of natural vegetation for agriculture has reduced the capacity of natural systems to provide ecosystem functions. Ecological restoration can restore desirable ecosystem functions, such as creating habitat for animal conservation and carbon sequestration as woody biomass. In order to maintain these beneficial ecosystem functions, restoration projects need to mature into self-perpetuating communities. Here we compared the ecological attributes of two types of restoration, “active” tree plantings with “passive” natural forest regeneration (“natural regrowth”) to existing remnant vegetation in a cleared agricultural landscape. Specifically, we measured differences between forest categories in factors that may predict future restoration failure or ecosystem collapse: aboveground plant biomass and biomass accrual over time (for regrowing stands), plant density and size class distributions, and diversity of functional groups based on seed dispersal and growth strategy traits. We found that natural regrowth and planted forests were similar in many ecological characteristics, including biomass accrual. Despite this, planted stands contained fewer tree recruit and shrub individuals, which may be due to limited recruitment in plantings. If this continues, these forests may be at risk of collapsing into nonforest states after mature trees senesce. Lower shrub density and richness of mid-story trees may lead to lower structural complexity in planting plots, and alongside lower richness of fleshy-fruited plant species may reduce animal resources and animal use of the restored stand. In our study region, natural regrowth may result in restored woodland communities with greater conservation and carbon mitigation value.
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References66
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: For tropical forest restoration to result in long-term biodiversity gains, native trees must establish self-sustaining populations in degraded sites. While many have asked how seedling recruitment varies between restoration treatments, the long-term fate of these recruits remains unknown. We address this research gap by tracking natural recruits of 27 species during the first 7 years of a tropical forest restoration experiment that included both planted and naturally regenerating plots. We use...
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Forest management practices emphasizing stand structural complexity are of interest across the northern forest region of the United States because of their potential to enhance carbon storage. Our research is part of a long-term study evaluating silvicultural treatments that promote late-successional forest characteristics in northern hardwood-conifer forests. We are testing the hypothesis that aboveground biomass development (carbon storage) is greater in structural complexity enhancement (SCE)...
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