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

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

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.

Ecological restoration, Fire and grazing regimes, Forest dynamics, Forest succession, Human disturbance, Landscape modelling, Tropical dry forest
0304-3800
1112-1128
Cantarello, Elena
eb860ae8-3638-403f-ab89-434436020328
Newton, Adrian C.
33e105a6-2f1d-40e6-a7b2-05fd84a99137
Hill, Ross A.
a15a67a0-2e74-40b2-b923-7eccdcebc818
Tejedor-Garavito, Natalia
26fd242c-c882-4210-a74d-af2bb6753ee3
Williams-Linera, Guadalupe
f3767df0-c07a-4dad-800b-6b1282419dd1
López-Barrera, Fabiola
b04546e2-8f96-421b-b33e-34349030c651
Manson, Robert H.
8341f063-d0df-4d69-be7e-b21034e97b90
Golicher, Duncan J.
6cb5d026-3f59-4255-9498-ccd96785f93e
Cantarello, Elena
eb860ae8-3638-403f-ab89-434436020328
Newton, Adrian C.
33e105a6-2f1d-40e6-a7b2-05fd84a99137
Hill, Ross A.
a15a67a0-2e74-40b2-b923-7eccdcebc818
Tejedor-Garavito, Natalia
26fd242c-c882-4210-a74d-af2bb6753ee3
Williams-Linera, Guadalupe
f3767df0-c07a-4dad-800b-6b1282419dd1
López-Barrera, Fabiola
b04546e2-8f96-421b-b33e-34349030c651
Manson, Robert H.
8341f063-d0df-4d69-be7e-b21034e97b90
Golicher, Duncan J.
6cb5d026-3f59-4255-9498-ccd96785f93e

Cantarello, Elena, Newton, Adrian C., Hill, Ross A., Tejedor-Garavito, Natalia, Williams-Linera, Guadalupe, López-Barrera, Fabiola, Manson, Robert H. and Golicher, Duncan J. (2011) Simulating the potential for ecological restoration of dryland forests in Mexico under different disturbance regimes. Ecological Modelling, 222 (5), 1112-1128. (doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2010.12.019).

Record type: Article

Abstract

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.

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More information

Published date: 10 March 2011
Additional Information: Funding Information: The contribution of the following individuals to this research is gratefully acknowledged: Chris Moody, Alison Hillyer, Victor Negrete-Paz, Octavio Rojas, María de Jesús Peralta, Javier Tolome, Víctor Carreto Morales, Bruce G. Ferguson, Mario González Espinosa, Neptalí Ramírez Marcial, Claudia Alvarez-Aquino, Miguel Martinez Ico, Raul Vaca, Nathaline Taylor Aquino and Magdiel Luis Santiago. Many thanks to three anonymous reviewers for helping improving the text. This research was funded by the European Community under the INCO Project ReForLan (CT2006-032132). Copyright: Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.
Keywords: Ecological restoration, Fire and grazing regimes, Forest dynamics, Forest succession, Human disturbance, Landscape modelling, Tropical dry forest

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 456100
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/456100
ISSN: 0304-3800
PURE UUID: 79304f8e-2515-4eb8-9f3e-9e8777224f4a
ORCID for Natalia Tejedor-Garavito: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-1140-6263

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Date deposited: 26 Apr 2022 14:49
Last modified: 28 Apr 2022 02:13

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Contributors

Author: Elena Cantarello
Author: Adrian C. Newton
Author: Ross A. Hill
Author: Guadalupe Williams-Linera
Author: Fabiola López-Barrera
Author: Robert H. Manson
Author: Duncan J. Golicher

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