Resource Details

Successional Change and Resilience of a Very Dry Tropical Deciduous Forest Following Shifting Agriculture

Literature: Journal Articles Available at NO COST

Lebrija-Trejos, E., Bongers, F., Pérez-García, E.A. & Meave, J.A. 2008, "Successional Change and Resilience of a Very Dry Tropical Deciduous Forest Following Shifting Agriculture", Biotropica, vol. 40, no. 4, 422-431.

Contact Info

Corresponding author:


  • Wageningen University, Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group, Wageningen, The Netherlands
  • Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Departamento de Ecología y Recursos Naturales, México DF, México


Available from the publisher here.


  • The authors looked at succession over time in very dry tropical deciduous forests in Mexico by using plots that had been abandoned for different lengths of time. They then compared the results to secondary succession patterns from other tropical forests.
  • The study was conducted near Nizanda, Oaxaca, Mexico where there are average temperatures of 26°C and rainfall of 900 mm (transition from Holdridge subtropical dry to subtropical very dry forests).
  • Mature canopy height is 7-8 m with some emergent individuals reaching 15 m.
  • Study plots were hills that had been abandoned by farmers for various lengths of time. Agriculture in this area is relatively low intensity (no machinery) with fallow periods of 5-7 years.
  • There was a shrub phase (years 0-3) which then came to be dominated by one species of tree (Mimosa acantholoba). Seeds and saplings grew under this canopy.
  • In less than 15 years, canopy height, plant density, and crown cover stabilized, but basal area, species richness, and diversity were still increasing.
  • Unlike humid tropical forests, there is no long pioneer species phase (100-150 years in tropical rainforests and about 40 years in subtropical dry forests) though the pioneer species have very low diversity (2 main species).
  • Resilience was not higher than humid forests, despite predictions to the contrary.


  • Mexico
  • This database is a work in progress, and we need your input to keep it up to date. Feel free to contact ELTI at to provide information on your own work as well as other projects and literature currently missing from the database.


    ELTI is a joint initiative of:
    Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute