Simulating the potential for ecological restoration of dryland forests in Mexico under different disturbance regimes.

Cantarello, E., Newton, A., Hill, R.A., Tejedor, N., Williams-Linera, G., Lopez-Barrera, F., Manson, R. H. and Golicher, D., 2011. Simulating the potential for ecological restoration of dryland forests in Mexico under different disturbance regimes. Ecological Modelling, 222 (5), pp. 1112-1128.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2010.12.019


Examining the potential for ecological restoration is important in areas where anthropogenic disturbance has degraded forest landscapes. However, the conditions under which restoration of degraded tropical dry forests (TDF) might be achieved in practice have not been determined in detail. In this study, we used LANDIS-II, a spatially explicit model of forest dynamics, to assess the potential for passive restoration of TDF through natural regeneration. The model was applied to two Mexican landscapes under six different disturbance regimes, focusing on the impact of fire and cattle grazing on forest cover, structure and composition. Model results identified two main findings. First, tropical dry forests are more resilient to anthropogenic disturbance than expected. Results suggested that under both a scenario of small, infrequent fires and a scenario of large, frequent fires, forest area can increase relatively rapidly. However, forest structure and composition differed markedly between these scenarios. After 400 years, the landscape becomes increasingly occupied by relatively shade-tolerant species under small, infrequent fires, but only species with both relatively high shade tolerance and high fire tolerance can thrive under conditions with large, frequent fires. Second, we demonstrated that different forms of disturbance can interact in unexpected ways. Our projections revealed that when grazing acts in combination with fire, forest cover, structure and composition vary dramatically depending on the frequency and extent of the fires. Results indicated that grazing and fire have a synergistic effect causing a reduction in forest cover greater than the sum of their individual effects. This suggests that passive landscape-scale restoration of TDF is achievable in both Mexican study areas only if grazing is reduced, and fires are carefully managed to reduce their frequency and intensity.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Landscape modelling Tropical dry forest Forest dynamics Forest succession Ecological restoration Human disturbance Fire and grazing regimes
Subjects:Science > Biology and Botany
Geography and Environmental Studies
Group:Faculty of Science and Technology
ID Code:18779
Deposited By:Dr Elena Cantarello
Deposited On:07 Nov 2011 11:50
Last Modified:10 Sep 2014 15:53


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