• exotics;
  • Florida;
  • monitoring;
  • native species richness;
  • principal components analysis;
  • tropical hardwood hammock

We sought to increase the conservation value and ecological resilience of a disturbed woodlot on protected land in suburban Miami-Dade County, Florida, by restoring a local tropical dry forest community. These efforts included adding 26 “novel native” tropical hardwood hammock species in different SR and density treatments, and conducting regular habitat management actions including exotic biomass removal. We monitored a variety of community composition and forest structure variables over 2 years to assess the success of our restoration efforts and the relative roles of habitat management versus native outplantings in achieving those outcomes. Habitat management proved influential to changing forest structure, while both habitat management and outplantings impacted changes in community composition, at least in the short term. Habitat management and outplantings in combination, however, allowed us to successfully (1) increase the number of native species and decrease the number of exotic species, (2) increase the number of protected plant species on the site, and (3) alter the community composition and forest structure of the site from that of a highly disturbed woodlot to that of a typical Miami Rock Ridge tropical hardwood hammock. Our success in meeting these restoration goals in just 2 years is one such example where simple native outplanting and exotic control projects can produce large returns with minimal resources in the form of time, money, and manpower. Finally, restoring regrowth sites or other remnant habitats may prove an efficient and effective way to conserve biodiversity and basic ecosystem processes in close proximity to metropolitan areas.