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Keywords:

  • abandoned pastures;
  • humid tropics;
  • lowland forests;
  • reforestation;
  • secondary forests;
  • succession

Abstract

Lack of seed dispersal can be an important obstacle to natural regeneration (NR) of degraded pastures in the humid tropics. Tree plantations can facilitate secondary forest succession by attracting seed dispersal agents from nearby forests. We studied seed rain and seed dispersal agents in 12–13 years old pure and mixed native tree plantations at La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica from July to December 2004. Plantations of Balizia elegans (5,522), Dipteryx panamensis (2,263), and Jacaranda copaia (2,091) had the greatest total seed abundance; treatments with the least total seed abundance were Calophyllum brasiliense (56), nonplanted abandoned pasture control 2 (353), Mixed Species 2 (389), and control 1 (836). Plantations of J. copaia and Hyeronima alchorneoides had the greatest seed species richness density, whereas the lowest seed species richness was found in the control treatments. The NR plots had more seeds dispersed by wind, whereas in the plantations, the most important dispersal agents were birds and mammals. The most abundant seeds were those of Miconia spp. (14,492), Psychotria bracheata (2,252), and the Poaceae family (1,346), all species from early successional stages. Plantations of native species are effective in attracting seed dispersal agents and thus facilitating regeneration of degraded pasturelands in the region.