Resource Details

Direct seeding of late-successional trees to restore tropical montane forest

Literature: Journal Articles

Cole, R.J., Holl, K.D., Kleene, C.L., & Zahawi, R.A. 2011, "Direct seeding of late-successional trees to restore tropical montane forest", Forest Ecology and Management, vol. 261, no. 10, pp. 1590-1597.

Contact Info

Corresponding Author:


  • Environmental Studies Department, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, United States
  • Las Cruces Biological Station, Organization for Tropical Studies, Apdo. 73-8257, San Vito, Costa Rica
  • Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, United States


Forest Ecology & Management

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Species Info

  • Ruagea glabra
  • Otoba novogranatensis
  • Garciniaintermedia
  • Pseudolmedia spuria
  • Calophyllumbrasiliense
  • Erythrina poeppigiana
  • Inga edulis


  • This study measures seed germination, seedling establishment, survival, growth and foliar nutrient content of five late-successional tree species which were directly seeded into three different habitats representing different stages of succession in tropical montane Costa Rica.
  • The study also compares the costs of direct seeding with locally collected seeds with planting nursery-raised seedlings.
  • Seeds of the five tree species were planted in four replicate blocks containing three habitat types: recently abandoned pasture; young successional forest (8-10 years); and 3-year-old mixed-species tree plantations (fast-growing N-fixers).
  • Germination was found to vary greatly among species but not with the habitat; however, seedling survivorship was found to be significantly higher in the tree plantations.
  • Seedling height, total overall biomass, and foliar P, N, S, Mn and Cu content were also highest among seedlings in the plantations.
  • In particular, Garcinia intermedia had a significantly higher overall rate of germination and survival than the other four species in year one.
  • With regard to costs, they found that planting seedlings as opposed to direct seeding was 10 to 30 times as expensive.
  • The cost of direct seeding in pastures was 2 to 4 times more expensive than planting in either the forests or plantations.
  • The authors posit that differences between growth and survival among the habitats are related to differing levels of nutrient availability.
  • They recommend direct seeding as a low-cost alternative for including late-successional tree species that do not naturally colonize into early stages of forest restoration, especially as a complement to restoration efforts that include fast-growing, N-fixing trees.

Geographical Region

  • Southern Central America
  • Country

  • Costa Rica
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