, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 473-482
Date: 26 Apr 2014

Direct seeding of dry forest tree species in abandoned pastures: effects of grass canopy and seed burial on germination

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Abstract

Natural tree regeneration in abandoned pastures can be hampered by various biotic and abiotic filters, including seed removal and predation. We tested the effects of maintenance and removal of grass and seed deposition (buried and unburied) on seed germination of 12 tree species in dry forest pastures. We obtained evidence supporting the hypothesis that seeds attain higher germination under a grass canopy than on bare ground. For most species, grass cover provides safety from seed predators and facilitates germination by providing a suitable microclimate with soil humidity similar to the forest. The hypothesis that buried seeds attain higher germination was not supported by our data. Predation and removal of unburied seeds ranged from 0 to 77 % and, alone or together, were the major causes of non-germination. Direct seeding is a promising technique for revegetation of recently abandoned pastures in areas originally covered by tropical dry forests. The high germination rate of seeds deposited on the ground and under grass reduces costs during initial restoration stages, potentially facilitating the spread and use of this technique.