Resource Details

Restoring abandoned pasture land with native tree species in Costa Rica: Effects of exotic grass competition and light

Literature: Journal Articles

Celis, G., & Jose, S. 2011, "Restoring abandoned pasture land with native tree species in Costa Rica: Effects of exotic grass competition and light", Forest Ecology and Management, vol. 261, pp. 1598-1604.

Contact Info

Corresponding author: Shibu Jose (


  • School of Natural Resources and Environment and School of Forest Resources and Conservation, PO Box 110410, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611
  • The Center for Agroforestry and School of Natural Resources, 203 Anheuser Busch Natural Resources Building, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211

Species Info

  • Pseudosamanea guachapele
  • Tabebuia impetignosa
  • Ceiba pentandra
  • Pachira quinata
  • Dalbergia retusa
  • Tabebuia rosea


  • In this article, the authors present results from a study comparing the survival and growth of native species seedlings under three light intensity treatments (2, 37, 100% light) in short (Cynodon mlenfluensis) and tall (Hyparrhenia rufa) grass environments in a humid area of Costa Rica.
  • The seedlings were raised from seed in the nursery and planted at 11 months age. Seedlings were planted at the beginning of the rainy season after the grass was mowed to the ground. Dead seedlings were replaced after one week. No subsequent mowing or management took place.
  • The species planted represent fast-growing pioneer species with commercial value.
  • The authors measured survival, height, and root collar diameter at one week and at 7 months after planting, and calculated relative growth rates.
  • Mortality was very low (0-14%), with no significant difference between species and treatments. Both grass environments showed a significant interaction between light availability and species.
  • Biomass allocation patterns showed a general trend to higher root mass ratios under increasing light availability.
  • Some of the light-demanding species (P. guachapele and C. odorata) showed higher root growth ratios at both high and low light intensity, but two other light-demanding species (T. impetiginosa and T. rosea) did not follow this pattern.
  • D. retusa showed a change from stem-dominated biomass accumulation at 2% light availabiity to root-dominated biomass accumulation at 100% light availability.
  • Reducing light availability to 37% (modeled on initial secondary forest) did not reduce growth performance in any other species, and in contrast increased growth rates in B. quinatum and C. pentandra in short grass. Reducing light availability to 2% negatively affected grass survival as well as seedling establishment and growth.
  • The authors point out that the results are preliminary, due to the short study period, and call for more research into nutrient and water use competition between native tree species and grasses. However, they do recommend B. quinatum and C. pentandra for a later stage of reforestation, since they can tolerate moderate shade.

Geographical Region

  • Southern Central America
  • Country

  • Costa Rica
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