Succession and management of tropical dry forests in the Americas: Review and new perspectives

Mauricio Quesada, G. Arturo Sanchez-Azofeifa, Mariana Alvarez-Añorve, Kathryn E. Stoner, Luis Avila-Cabadilla, Julio Calvo-Alvarado, Alicia Castillo, Mario M. Espírito-Santo, Marcilio Fagundes, Geraldo W. Fernandes, John Gamon, Martha Lopezaraiza-Mikel, Deborah Lawrence, Leonor Patricia Cerdeira Morellato, Jennifer S. Powers, Frederico de S. Neves, Victor Rosas-Guerrero, Roberto Sayago, Gumersindo Sanchez-Montoya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

264 Scopus citations


Understanding tropical forest succession is critical for the development of tropical forest conservation strategies worldwide, given that tropical secondary forests can be considered the forests of the future. Tropical dry forests (TDF) are among the most threatened tropical ecosystems, there are more secondary forests and forest restoration efforts that require a better understanding of successional processes. The main goal of this synthesis for this special issue on the ecology and management of tropical dry forests in the Americas is to present a summarized review of the current knowledge of the ecology and management implications associated to TDF succession. We explore specific issues associated to tropical dry forest succession with emphasis on the use of chronosequences, plant diversity and composition, plant phenology and remote sensing, pollination, and animal-plant interactions; all under the integrating umbrella of ecosystem succession. We also emphasize the need to conduct socio-ecological research to understand changes in land-use history and its effects on succession and forest regeneration of TDF. We close this paper with some thoughts and ideas associated with the strong need for an integrating dimension not considered until today: the role of cyberinfrastructure and eco-informatics as a tool to support sound conservation, management and understanding of TDF in the Americas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1014-1024
Number of pages11
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 5 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was carried out with the aid of a grant from Fapemig, Brasil to MMES, the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) CRN II # 021, which is supported by the US National Science Foundation (Grant GEO-0452325) and by grants from the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, México (CONACYT 31826-N, U50863Q; SEMARNAT-CONACyT 2002-C01-0597 and 2002-C01-0544; and CONACyT sabbatical fellowships to MQ and KS) and the Dirección General de Asuntos del Personal Académico at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (grants # IN221305 and IN304308) and The National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC-Discovery) for ASA. Logistical support from Mei Mei Chong, Heberto Ferreira and Alberto Valencia to this study is acknowledged. We also thank the comments and suggestions from Dr. Fredericksen and two anonymous reviewers.


  • Cyberinfrastructure
  • Eco-informatics
  • Forest conservation
  • Forest management
  • Plant phenology
  • Pollination webs
  • Seed dispersal
  • Socio-ecosystems
  • Tropical dry forest
  • Tropical succession


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