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Bird Perches Increase Forest Seeds on Puerto Rican Landslides

Authors

  • Aaron B. Shiels,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biological Sciences University of Nevada   , Las Vegas, 4505 Maryland Pkwy., Las Vegas, NV 89154-4004, U.S.A.
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    • 3

      Current address: Institute for Tropical Ecosystem Studies, University of Puerto Rico, P.O. Box 23341-3341, San Juan, PR 00931-3341, U.S.A.

  • Lawrence R. Walker

    1. Department of Biological Sciences University of Nevada   , Las Vegas, 4505 Maryland Pkwy., Las Vegas, NV 89154-4004, U.S.A.
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   Address correspondence to A. B. Shiels, email shiels@sunites.upr.clu.edu

Abstract

Abstract Landslides result in the loss of vertical vegetative structure, soil nutrients, and the soil seed bank. These losses impede timely recovery of tropical forest communities. In this study we added bird perches to six Puerto Rican landslides with three types of surfaces (bare, climbing fern, grass) in an effort to facilitate inputs of forest seeds through bird dispersal and to accelerate plant succession. Numbers of bird-dispersed forest seeds were significantly higher in plots beneath introduced perches than in control plots. Perches did not increase forest seedling densities compared with control plots. Seven different species of birds were observed on introduced perches. Because 99% of the seed inputs to controls and perch plots in the six landslides were wind-dispersed seeds (mostly graminoids), perches can improve landslide restoration if woody plants establish and shade out the dominant graminoid and climbing fern ground cover. Although increasing seed inputs from forest species is a critical step in accelerating revegetation of landslides, we suggest that supplemental restoration techniques be applied in addition to bird perches to promote forest recovery.

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