• assisting natural regeneration;
  • coppice;
  • seasonal forests;
  • sprouting;
  • tropical deciduous forests;
  • tropical semideciduous forests


Tropical dry forests are the most threatened tropical terrestrial ecosystem. However, few studies have been conducted on the natural regeneration necessary to restore these forests. We reviewed the ecology of regeneration of tropical dry forests as a tool to restore disturbed lands. Dry forests are characterized by a relatively high number of tree species with small, dry, wind-dispersed seeds. Over small scales, wind-dispersed seeds are better able to colonize degraded areas than vertebrate-dispersed plants. Small seeds and those with low water content are less susceptible to desiccation, which is a major barrier for establishment in open areas. Seeds are available in the soil in the early rainy season to maximize the time to grow. However, highly variable precipitation and frequent dry spells are important sources of mortality in seeds and seedlings. Collecting seeds at the end of the dry season and planting them when soil has sufficient moisture may increase seedling establishment and reduce the time they are exposed to seed predators. Germination and early establishment in the field are favored in shaded sites, which have milder environment and moister soil than open sites during low rainfall periods. Growth of established seedlings, however, is favored in open areas. Therefore, clipping plants around established seedlings may be a good management option to improve growth and survival. Although dry forests have species either resistant to fire or that benefit from it, frequent fires simplify community species composition. Resprouting ability is a noticeable mechanism of regeneration in dry forests and must be considered for restoration. The approach to dry-forest restoration should be tailored to this ecosystem instead of merely following approaches developed for moister forests.