Litterfall Dynamics under Different Tropical Forest Restoration Strategies in Costa Rica

Celentano, D., R.A. Zahawi, B. Finegan, R. Ostertag, R.J. Cole and K.D. Holl

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In degraded tropical pastures, active restoration strategies have the potential to facilitate forest regrowth at rates that are faster than natural recovery, enhancing litterfall, and nutrient inputs to the forest floor. We evaluated litterfall and nutrient dynamics under four treatments: plantation (entire area planted), tree islands (planting in six patches of three sizes), control (same age natural regeneration), and young secondary forest (7–9-yr-old natural regeneration). Tree islands increased litter production and nutrient inputs more quickly than natural regeneration. In addition to being less resource intensive than conventional plantations, this planting design promotes a more rapid increase in litter diversity and more spatial heterogeneity, which can accelerate the rate of nutrient cycling and facilitate forest recovery.

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Peer-reviewed Article