Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 88, Issue 2, pp 221–236

Transplanting native tree seedlings to enrich tropical live fences: an ecological and socio-economic analysis


    • Centro de Investigaciones en EcosistemasUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  • Miguel Martínez-Ramos
    • Centro de Investigaciones en EcosistemasUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de México

DOI: 10.1007/s10457-013-9669-y

Cite this article as:
Fuentealba, B.D. & Martínez-Ramos, M. Agroforest Syst (2014) 88: 221. doi:10.1007/s10457-013-9669-y


The enrichment of live fences with native tree species has been proposed as a conservation strategy in agricultural landscapes; however, little research has explored ways to do this in tropical areas. This study examines selection of native tree species, effects of damage caused by mammals (mainly cattle) in performance (survival and growth) of transplanted seedlings, and cost-benefit balances as critical steps to enrich tropical live fences. Seven native tree species, with ecological and socio-economic importance, were selected in a Mexican agricultural landscape to grow as seedlings, and six of them were transplanted into live fences of cattle ranches with different levels of cattle activity (none/moderate/high). Costs associated with propagation and seedling protection in the field were calculated, and performance and damage in seedlings were measured over 2 years. We developed an index to identify species with the best performance and lowest costs in sites with cattle activity. Our results showed that damage, caused mainly by cattle, reduced the performance of transplanted seedlings. The effect of this damage varied depending on its severity (level and frequency) and the identity and life history of species. All selected species performed well in the site without cattle access. Dendropanax arboreus was the best species at site with moderate cattle activity, and Trema micrantha and Saurauia scabrida at site with high cattle activity. These species are recommended for enriching live fences because of good cost-benefit balance. This approach could be an important quantitative method to select species useful not only in agroforestry but also in restoration projects, which normally remain under the pressure of domestic and wild animals.


Seedling demographyMexicoTropical pasturesHerbivoryCattle damage

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013