The growing importance of secondary forests has stimulated research on the patterns of structure, biomass, species diversity and species composition of successional tropical forests. Despite current knowledge, the future of tropical forests and their ability to recover from human impacts are still a challenge for researchers. The Atlantic Forest is one of the most endangered ecosystems on Earth, yet has been reduced in size and distribution due to human disturbance such that most of the remaining fragments are secondary forest at different successional stages. How do these forests recover structure and species composition during succession? What are the main drivers of community assembly during succession?