Tree seedling establishment in dry tropics: an urgent need of interaction studies

  • 501 Accesses

  • 7 Citations


The current anthropogenic activities and climate change are increasingly becoming a growing global concern for dry tropical forests. Worldwide, these ecologically important forests have degraded considerably since the past few decades due to such factors. These factors have harmful consequences on the vegetation structure and diversity especially tree seedlings, which may further aggravate climate change. Generally, the vegetation recovery is very slow and unpredictable in the dry tropics due to complex interaction among tree seedling, site (particularly, soil) and climatic conditions. We inculcated that a better understanding of the behavior of individuals of different tree species at seedling stage in dry forests is of immense importance. It is increasingly being recognized for explaining and managing the future composition of plant communities under changing environmental conditions. In this regard, the multi-factorial interaction studies under various resource–disturbance combinations are needed in dry tropical ecosystems to understand the: (1) impact of relative variability in resources and disturbances on the responses of tree seedlings of native species and (2) how the later relates to distinct functional and life history traits of the individual tree species. Most importantly, such studies would improve our limited understanding of how variation (natural and man-made) in nutrient availability, under the influence of other local environmental factors (such as water, light, grass competition, herbivory, fire, allelopathy and enhanced CO2 conditions), would affect the dynamics of dry tropical forest community. It may help in the proper management of these forests. Moreover, it may prove helpful in the current climate change scenario, as change in forest community dynamics may have consequences on soil C sequestration and CO2 efflux at global scale.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Access options

Buy single article

Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.

US$ 39.95

Price includes VAT for USA

Subscribe to journal

Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.

US$ 99

This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2


  1. Alam SM (1999) Nutrient uptake by plants under stress conditions. In: Pessarakli M (ed) Handbook of plant and crop stress, 2nd edn. Marcel Dekker, New York, pp 285–313

  2. Amissah L, Mohren GMJ, Kyereh B, Poorter L (2015) The effects of drought and shade on the performance, morphology and physiology of Ghanaian tree species. Plos One 1–22

  3. Anthelme F, Michalet R (2009) Grass-to-tree facilitation in an arid grazed environment (Air Mountains, Sahara). Basic Appl Ecol 5:437–446

  4. Augspurger KA (1984) Light requirements of neotropical tree seedlings: a comparative study of growth and survival. J Ecol 72:777–795

  5. Ayres E, Heath J, Malcolm P, Black HIJ, Kerstiens G, Bardgett RD (2004) Tree physiological responses to above-ground herbivory directly modify below-ground processes of soil carbon and nitrogen cycling. Ecol Lett 7:469–479

  6. Baker TR, Swaine MD, Burslem DFRP (2003) Variation in tropical forest growth rates: combined effects of functional group composition and resource availability. Persp Plant Ecol Evol Syst 6:21–36

  7. Bala G (2013) Digesting 400 ppm for global mean CO2 concentration. Curr Sci 104:1471

  8. Balfour DA, Midgley JJ (2008) A demographic perspective on bush encroachment by Acacia karroo in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, South Africa. Afr J Range Forage Sci 25:147–151

  9. Barot S, Gignoux J, Menaut JC (1999) Demography of a savanna palm tree: predictions from comprehensive spatial pattern analyses. Ecology 80:1987–2005

  10. Barton KE (2013) Ontogenetic patterns in the mechanisms of tolerance to herbivory in Plantago. Ann Bot 112:711–720

  11. Barton KE, Hanley ME (2013) Seedling–herbivore interactions: insights into plant defence and regeneration patterns. Ann Bot 112:643–650

  12. Belsky AJ (1994) Influences of trees on savanna productivity: tests of shade, nutrients, and tree-grass competition. Ecology 75:922–932

  13. Bernhard-Reversat F (1982) Biogeochemical cycle of N in a semi-arid savanna. Oikos 38:321–332

  14. Bhadouria R, Singh R, Srivastava P, Raghbanshi AS (2016) Understanding the ecology of tree-seedling growth in dry tropical environment: a management perspective. Energ Ecol Environ 1:296–309

  15. Bianchi CA, Haig SM (2013) Deforestation trends of tropical dry forest in Central Brazil. Biotropica 45:395–400

  16. Bilbao B, Medina E (1991) Nitrogen-use efficiency for growth in a cultivated African grass and a native South American pasture grass. In: Werner P (ed) Savanna ecology and management: Australian perspectives and intercontinental comparisons. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford

  17. Boege K (2004) Induced responses in three tropical dry forest plant species—direct and indirect effects on herbivory. Oikos 107:541–548

  18. Bognounou F, Thiombiano A, Oden PC, Guinko S (2010) Seed provenance and latitudinal gradient effects on seed germination capacity and seedling establishment of five indigenous species in Burkina Faso. Trop Ecol 51:207–220

  19. Bokhari UG (1977) Regrowth of western wheatgrass utilizing 14C-labelled assimilates stored in belowground parts. Plant Soil 48:115–127

  20. Boucher D, Elias P, Lininger K, May-Tobin C, Roquemore S, Saxon E (2011) The root of the problem: what’s driving tropical deforestation today?. UCS Publications, Cambridge

  21. Brando PM, Nepstad DC, Balch JK, Bolker B, Christman MC, Coe M et al (2012) Fire-induced tree mortality in a neotropical forest: the roles of bark traits, tree size, wood density and fire behavior. Glob Change Biol 18:630–641

  22. Burke IC, Schimel DS, Yonker CM, Parton WJ, Joyce LA, Lauenroth WK (1990) Regional modelling of grassland biogeochemistry using GIS. Landsc Ecol 4:45–54

  23. Bush JK, Van Auken OW (1995) Woody plant growth related to planting time and clipping of a C4 grass. Ecology 76:1603–1609

  24. Cabin RJ, Weller SG, Lorence DH, Cordell S, Hadway LJ, Montgomery R, Goo D, Urakami A (2002) Effects of light, alien grass, and native species additions on Hawaiian dry forest restoration. Ecol Appl 12:1595–1610

  25. Campa H, Haufler JB, Beyer DE (1992) Effects of simulated browsing on aspen characteristics and nutritional qualities. J Wildl Manag 56:158–164

  26. Ceccon E, Huante P, Rincón E (2006) Abiotic factors influencing tropical dry forests regeneration. Braz Arch Biol Technol 49:305–312

  27. Cernusak LA, Winter K, Martínez C, Correa E, Aranda J, Garcia M, Jaramillo C, Turner BL (2011) Responses of legume versus nonlegume tropical tree seedlings to elevated CO2 concentration. Plant Physiol 157:372–385

  28. Ceulemans R, Mouseau M (1994) Effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 on woody plants. A review. New Phytol 127:425–446

  29. Champion HG, Seth SK (1968) General silviculture for India. Government of India, Delhi, p 511

  30. Chapin FS III, Rupp TS, Starfield AM, DeWilde L, Zavaleta ES, Fresco N, McGuire AD (2003) Planning for resilience: modelling change in human-fire interactions in the Alaskan boreal forest. Front Ecol Environ 1:255–261

  31. Chaves MM, Pereira JS, Maroco J, Rodrigues ML, Ricardo CPP, Osorio ML, Carvalho I, Faria T, Pinheiro C (2002) How plants cope with water stress in the field. Ann Bot 89:907–916

  32. Clark DB, Palmer MW, Clark DE (1999) Edaphic factors and the landscape-scale distributions of tropical rain forest trees. Ecology 80:2662–2675

  33. Comita LS, Ehgelbrecht BMJ (2014) Drought as a driver of tropical tree species regeneration dynamics and distribution patterns. In: Coomes DA, Burslem DFRP, Simonson WD (eds) Forests and global change. British Ecological Society, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 261–308

  34. Condit R, Engelbrecht BMJ, Pino D, Perez R, Turner BL (2013) Species distributions in response to individual soil nutrients and seasonal drought across a community of tropical trees. PNAS 110:5064–5068

  35. Coopman RE, Jara JC, Bravo LA et al (2008) Changes in morpho-physiological attributes of Eucalyptus globulus plants in response to different drought hardening treatments. Electron J Biotechnol 11:1–10

  36. Corlett RT (2016) The impacts of droughts in tropical forests. Trends Plant Sci 21:584–593

  37. Devakumar AS, Udayakumar M, Prasad TG (1996) A simple technique to expose tree seedlings to elevated CO2 for increased initial growth rates. Curr Sci 71:469–479

  38. Diamond J, Case TJ (1986) Community ecology. Harper and Row, New York, pp 314–329

  39. Dirzo R, Domínguez C (1995) Plant-herbivore interactions in Mesoamerican tropical dry forest. In: Bullock SH, Mooney HA, Medina E (eds) Seasonally dry tropical forest. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 304–325

  40. Dirzo R, Young HS, Mooney HA, Ceballos G (2011) Seasonally dry tropical forest: ecology and conservation. Island Press, Washington

  41. Drake BG, Gonzalez-Meler MA, Long SP (1997) More efficient plants: a consequence of rising atmospheric CO2? Ann Rev Plant Physiol Plant Mol Biol 48:609–639

  42. Eamus D, Jarvis PG (1989) The direct effects of increase in the global atmospheric CO2 concentration on natural and commercial temperate trees and forests. Adv Ecol Res 19:1–55

  43. Elton CS (1958) The ecology of invasions by animals and plants. University of Chicago Press, Chicago

  44. Engelbrecht BMJ, Kursar TA, Tyree MT (2005) Drought effects on seedling survival in a tropical moist forest. Trees 19:312–321

  45. Engelbrecht BMJ, Comita LS, Condit RS, Kursar TA, Tyree MT, Turner BL, Hubbell SP (2007) Drought sensitivity shapes species distribution patterns in tropical forests. Nature 447:80–82

  46. Evans J, Poorter H (2001) Photosynthetic acclimation of plants to growth irradiance: the relative importance of specific leaf area and nitrogen partitioning in maximizing carbon gain. Plant, Cell Environ 24:755–767

  47. Ewel J (1977) Differences between wet and dry successional tropical ecosystems. Geol Ecol Trop 1:103–117

  48. February EC, Higgins SI, Bond WJ, Swemmer L (2013) Influence of competition and rainfall manipulation on the growth responses of savanna trees and grasses. Ecology 94:1155–1164

  49. Fetene M (2003) Intra- and inter-specific competition between seedlings of Acacia etbaica and a perennial grass (Hyparrenia hirta). J Arid Environ 55:441–451

  50. Frost CJ, Hunter MB (2008) Herbivore-induced shifts in carbon and nitrogen allocation in red oak seedlings. New Phytol 178:835–845

  51. Frost CC, Walker J, Peet RK (1986) Fire dependent savannas and prairies of the Southeast: original extent, preservation status and management problems. In: Kulhavy DL, Conner RN (eds) Wilderness and natural areas in the eastern United States: a management challenge, Center for Applied Studies, School of Forestry, Steven F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches

  52. FSI (2009) State of forest report 2009. Forest Survey of India, Dehradun

  53. Gerhardt K (1996) Effects of root competition and canopy openness on survival and growth of tree seedlings in a tropical seasonal dry forest. For Ecol Manag 82:33–48

  54. Gerhardt K (1998) Leaf defoliation of tropical dry forest tree seedlings-implications for survival and growth. Trees 13:88–95

  55. Goheen JR, Keesing F, Allan BF, Ogada Ostfeld RS (2004) Net effects of large mammals on Acacia seedling survival in an African savanna. Ecology 85:1555–1561

  56. Gommers CM, Visser EJ, Onge KRS, Voesenek LA, Pierik R (2013) Shade tolerance: when growing tall is not an option. Trends Plant Sci 18:65–71

  57. Gorchov DL, Trisel DE (2003) Competitive effects of the invasive shrub, Lonicera maackii (Rupr.) Herder (Caprifoliaceae), on the growth and survival of native tree seedlings. Plant Ecol 166:13–24

  58. Grellier S, Janeau JL, Barot S, Ward D (2012) Grass competition is more important than seed ingestion by livestock for Acacia recruitment in South Africa. Plant Ecol 213:899–908

  59. Grubb PJ (1977) The maintenance of species richness in plant communities: the importance of the regeneration niche. Biol Rev 52:107–145

  60. Grünzweig JM, Körner C (2003) Differential phosphorus and nitrogen effects drive species and community responses to elevated CO2 in semi-arid grassland. Funct Ecol 17:766–777

  61. Hamilton EW, Frank DA, Hinchey PM, Murray TR (2008) Defoliation induces root exudation and triggers positive rhizospheric feedbacks in a temperate grassland. Soil Biol Biochem 40:2865–2873

  62. Harcombe PA (1987) Tree life tables: simple birth, growth, and death data encapsulate life histories and ecological roles. Bioscience 37:557–568

  63. Hättenschwiler S (2001) Tree seedling growth in natural deep shade: functional traits related to interspecific variation in response to elevated CO2. Oecologia 129:31–42

  64. Higgins SI, Bond WJ, February EC, Bronn A, Euston-Brown DIW, Enslin B et al (2007) Effects of four decades of fire manipulation on woody vegetation structure in savanna. Ecology 88:1119–1125

  65. Hoffmann WA, Moreira AG (2002) The role of fire in population dynamics of woody plants. In: Oliveira PS, Marquis RJ (eds) The Cerrados of Brazil: ecology and natural history of a neotropical savanna. Columbia University Press, New York, pp 159–177

  66. Hoffmann WA, Schroeder W, Jackson RB (2003) Regional feedbacks among fire, climate, and tropical deforestation. J Geophys Res 108:ACL4–1–11

  67. Holdridge LR (1967) Life zone ecology. Tropical Science Centre San Jose, Costa Rica, p 206

  68. Holl KD (1998) Effects of above and below ground competition of shrubs and grass on Calophyllum brasiliense seedling growth in abandoned tropical pasture. For Ecol Manag 109:187–195

  69. Holl KD (2002) Effect of shrubs on tree seedling establishment in an abandoned tropical pasture. J Ecol 90:179–187

  70. Holmgren M, Scheffer M, Huston MA (1997) The interplay of facilitation and competition in plant communities. Ecology 78:1966–1975

  71. Hooper DU, Chapin FS III, Ewel JJ, Hector A, Inchausti P, Lavorel S, Lawton JH, Lodge D, Loreau M, Naeem S, Schmid B, Seta¨la¨ H, Symstad AJ, Vandermeer J, Wardle DA (2005) Effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning: a consensus of current knowledge and needs for future research. Ecol Monogr 75:3–35

  72. Hu Y, Schmidhalter U (2005) Drought and salinity: a comparison of their effects on mineral nutrition of plants. J Plant Nutr Soil Sci 168:541–549

  73. Huante P, Rincon E, Acosta I (1995) Nutrient availability and growth rate of 34 woody species from a tropical deciduous forest in Mexico. Funct Ecol 9:849–858

  74. Ibañez I, Schupp EW (2001) Positive and negative interactions between environmental conditions affecting Cercocarpus ledifolius seedling survival. Oecologia 129:543–550

  75. IPCC (2014) Climate change 2014 synthesis report. Fifth assessment report. Accessed 26 Jan 2016

  76. Irigoyen JJ, Goicoechea N, Antolín MC, Pascual I, Sánchez-Díaz M, Aguirreolea J, Morales F (2014) Growth, photosynthetic acclimation and yield quality in legumes under climate change simulations: an updated survey. Plant Sci 226:22–29

  77. Janzen DH (1988) Management of habitat fragments in a tropical dry forest: growth. Ann Mo Bot 75:105–116

  78. Jeltsch F, Milton SJ, Dean WRJ, van Rooyen N (1996) Tree spacing and coexistence in semiarid savannas. J Ecol 84:583–595

  79. Jensen NR, Webster CR, Witt JC, Grant JB (2011) Ungulate winter habitat selection as a driver of herbaceous-layer heterogeneity in northern temperate forests. Ecosphere 2:1–16

  80. Jha CS, Singh JS (1990) Composition and dynamics of dry tropical forest relation to soil texture. J Veg Sci 1:609–614

  81. Jhariya MK, Bargali SS, Swami SL, Kittur B (2012) Vegetational structure, diversity and fuel load in fire affected areas of tropical dry deciduous forests in Chhattisgarh. Int J Plant Res 25:210–224

  82. John R, Dalling JW, Harms KE, Yavitt JB, Stallard RF, Mirabello M, Hubbell SP, Valencia R, Navarrete H, Vallejo M, Foster RB (2007) Soil nutrients influence spatial distribution of tropical tree species. PNAS 104:864–869

  83. Kambatuku JR, Cramer MD, Ward D (2011) Savanna tree-grass competition is modified by substrate type and herbivory. J Veg Sci 22:225–237

  84. Khurana E, Singh JS (2000) Influence of seed size on seedling growth of Albizia procera under different soil water levels. Ann Bot 86:1185–1192

  85. Khurana E, Singh JS (2001) Ecology of tree seed and seedlings: implications for tropical forest conservation and restoration. Curr Sci 80:748–757

  86. Khurana E, Singh JS (2002) Ecology of seed and seedling growth for conservation and restoration of tropical dry forest: a review. Environ Conserv 28:39–52

  87. Khurana E, Singh JS (2004) Germination and seedling growth of five tree species from tropical dry forest in relation to water stress: impact of seed size. J Trop Ecol 20:385–396

  88. Khurana E, Singh JS (2006) Impact of life-history traits on response of seedlings of five tree species of tropical dry forest to shade. J Trop Ecol 22:653–661

  89. Kitajima K (2002) Do shade-tolerant tropical tree seedlings depend longer on seed reserves? Functional growth analysis of three Bignoniaceae species. Funct Ecol 16:433–444

  90. Knoop WT, Walker BH (1985) Interactions of woody and herbaceous vegetation in a southern African savanna. J Ecol 73:235–253

  91. Kodandapani N, Cochrane MA, Sukumar R (2008) A comparative analysis of spatial, temporal and ecological characteristics of forest fires in a seasonally dry tropical forest ecosystem in the Western Ghats, India. For Ecol Manag 256:607–617

  92. Kraaij T, Ward D (2006) Effects of rain, nitrogen, fire and grazing on tree recruitment and early survival in bush- encroached savanna, South Africa. Plant Ecol 186:235–246

  93. Lawrence D (2001) Nitrogen and phosphorus enhance growth and luxury consumption of four secondary forest tree species in Borneo. J Trop Ecol 17:859–869

  94. Lawrence D (2003) The response of tropical tree seedlings to nutrient supply: meta-analysis for understanding a changing tropical landscape. J Trop Ecol 19:239–250

  95. Lewis SL, Edwards DP, Galbraith D (2015) Increasing human dominance of tropical forests. Science 349:827

  96. Li FL, Bao WK, Wu N (2009) Effects of water stress on growth, dry matter allocation and water-use efficiency of a leguminous species, Sophora davidii. Agrofor Syst 77:193

  97. Lovelock CE, Winter K, Mersits R, Popp M (1998) Responses of communities of tropical tree species to elevated CO2 in a forest clearing. Oecologia 116:207–218

  98. Lovelock CE, Posada J, Winter K (1999) Effects of elevated CO2 and defoliated on compensatory growth and photosynthesis of seedlings in a tropical tree, Copaifera aromatica. Biotropica 31:279–287

  99. Ludwig F, Dawson TE, Prins HHT, Berendse F, de Kroon H (2004) Below-ground competition between trees and grasses may overwhelm the facilitative effects of hydraulic lift. Ecol Lett 7:623–631

  100. Lugo AE, Gonzalez-Liboy JA, Cintron B, Dugger K (1978) Structure, productivity, and transpiration of a subtropical dry forest in Puerto Rico. Biotropica 10:278–291

  101. Malhi Y, Roberts JT, Betts RA, Killeen TJ, Li W, Nobre CA (2008) Climate change, deforestation, and the fate of the Amazon. Science 319:169–172

  102. Marod D, Utis K, Chanchai Y, Hiroshi T, Nakashizuka T (1999) Structural dynamics of the natural mixed deciduous forest in western Thailand. J Veg Sci 10:777–786

  103. Marod D, Kutintara U, Tanaka H, Nakashizuka T (2002) The effects of drought and fire on seed and seedling dynamics in a tropical seasonal forest in Thailand. Plant Ecol 161:41–57

  104. Marshall PE, Kozlowski TT (1974) Compositional changes in growth and development of woody angiosperms. Can J Bot 52:239–245

  105. Meyer KM, Wiegand K, Ward D, Moustakas A (2007) The rhythm of savanna patch dynamics. J Ecol 95:1306–1315

  106. Mikola J, Yeates GW, Barker GM, Wardle DA, Bonner KI (2001) Effects of defoliation intensity on soil food-web properties in an experimental grassland community. Oikos 92:333–343

  107. Mikola J, Setälä H, Virkajärvi P, Saarijärvi K, Ilmarinen K, Voigt W, Vestberg M (2009) Defoliation and patchy nutrient return drive grazing effects on plant and soil properties in a dairy cow pasture. Ecol Monogr 79:221–244

  108. Miles L, Newton AC, DeFries RS, Ravilious C, May I, Blyth S, Kapos V, Gordon JE (2006) A global overview of the conservation status of tropical dry forests. J Biogeogr 33:491–505

  109. Milton K (1980) The foraging strategy of Howler Monkeys. Columbia University Press, New York

  110. Mondal N, Sukumar R (2014) Characterising weather patterns associated with fire in a seasonally dry tropical forest in southern India. Int J Wildland Fire 23:196–201

  111. Mondal N, Sukumar R (2016) Fires in seasonally dry tropical forest: testing the varying constraints hypothesis across a regional rainfall gradient. PLoS One 11(7):e0159691

  112. Mooney HA, Hobbs RJ (2000) Invasive species in a changing world. Island Press, Washington

  113. Murphy BP, Bowman DMJS (2012) What controls the distribution of tropical forest and savanna? Ecol Lett 15:748–758

  114. Murphy PG, Lugo AE (1986) Ecology of tropical forest. Ann Rev Ecol Evol Syst 17:67–88

  115. Mutikainen P, Walls M (1995) Growth, reproduction and defence in nettles: responses to herbivory modified by competition and fertilization. Oecologia 104:487–495

  116. Namirembe S, Brook RM, Ong CK (2008) Manipulating phenology and water relations in Senna spectabilis in a water limited environment in Kenya. Agrofor Syst 75:197–210

  117. Norghauer JM, Free CM, Landis RM, Grogan J, Malcolm JR, Thomas SC (2015) Herbivores limit the population size of big-leaf mahogany trees in an Amazonian forest. Oikos 125:137–148

  118. O’Brien MJ, Leuzinger S, Philipson CD, Tay J, Hector A (2014) Drought survival of tropical tree seedlings enhanced by non-structural carbohydrate levels. Nat Clim Chang 4:710–714

  119. O’Connor TG (1995) Acacia karroo invasion of grassland: environmental and biotic effects influencing emergence and establishment. Oecologia 103:214–223

  120. Olivares E, Medina E (1992) Water and nutrient relations of woody perennials from tropical dry forests. J Veg Sci 3:383–392

  121. Overbeck GE (2005) Effect of fire on vegetation dynamics and plant types in subtropical grassland in southern Brazil. Ph.D. thesis, Department fu¨rO¨kologie, Technische Universita¨t Mu¨nchen, Freising, p 139

  122. Paine CET, Amissah L, Auge H et al (2015) Globally, functional traits are weak predictors of juvenile tree growth, and we do not know why. J Ecol 103:978–989

  123. Pastor J, Dewey B, Naiman RJ, McInnes PF, McInnes Y (1993) Moose browsing and soil fertility in the boreal forests of Isle Royale National Park. Ecology 74:467–480

  124. Peguero G, Espelta JM (2011) Disturbance intensity and seasonality affect the resprouting ability of the dry-tropical tree Acacia pennatula: do resources stored below-ground matter? J Trop Ecol 27:539–546

  125. Peguero G, Espelta JM (2013) Evidence for insect seed predator dynamics mediated by vertebrate frugivores. Rev Chil Hist Nat 86:161–167

  126. Peguero G, Lanuza OR, Savé R, Espelta JM (2012) Allelopathic potential of the Neotropical dry-forest tree Acacia pennatula Benth.: inhibition of seedling establishment exceeds facilitation under tree canopies. Plant Ecol 213:1944–1953

  127. Pennington RT, Lavin M, Oliveira-filho A (2009) Woody plant diversity, evolution, and ecology in the tropics: perspectives from Seasonally Dry Tropical Forests. Ann Rev Ecol Evol Syst 40:437–457

  128. Phillips PL, Barnes PW (2002) Spatial asymmetry in tree-shrub clusters in a subtropical savanna. Am Midl Nat 149:59–70

  129. Pineda-García F, Paz H, Meinzer FC, Angeles G (2016) Exploiting water versus tolerating drought: water-use strategies of trees in a secondary successional tropical dry forest. Tree Physiol 36:208–217

  130. Podadera DS, Engel VL, Parrotta JA, Machado DL, Sato LM, Durigan G (2015) Influence of removal of a non-native tree species Mimosa caesalpiniifolia Benth. on the regenerating plant communities in a tropical semideciduous forest under restoration in Brazil. Environ Manage 56:1148–1158

  131. Powers JS, Becklund KK, Gei MG, Iyengar SB, Meyer R, O’Connell CS, Schilling EM, Smith CM, Waring BG, Werden LK (2015) Nutrient addition effects on tropical dry forests: a mini-review from microbial to ecosystem scales. Front Earth Sci 3:34

  132. Prasad AE (2010) Effects of an exotic plant invasion on native understory plants in a Tropical Dry Forest. Conserv Biol 24:747–757

  133. Prins HHT (1988) Plant phenology patterns in Lake Manyara National Park. J Biogeogr 15:465–480

  134. Puri S, Swamy SL (2001) Growth and biomass production in Azadirachta indica seedlings in response to nutrients (N and P) and moisture stress. Agrofor Syst 51:57–68

  135. Quesada M, Sanchez-Azofeifa GA, Alvarez-Anorve M et al (2009) Succession and management of tropical dry forests in the Americas: review and new perspectives. Fort Ecol Manag 258:1014–1024

  136. Raaimakers D, Lambers H (1996) Response to phosphorus supply of tropical tree seedlings: a comparison between a pioneer species, Tapirira obtusa, and a climax species, Lecythis corrugata. New Phytol 132:97–102

  137. Raghubanshi AS, Srivastava SC, Singh RS et al (1990) Nutrient release in leaf litter. Nature 346:227

  138. Ramachandran A, Radhapriya P (2016) Restoration of degraded soil in the Nanmangalam Reserve Forest with native tree species: effect of indigenous plant growth-promoting bacteria. Sci World J. doi:10.1155/2016/5465841

  139. Reekie EG, Bazzaz FA (1989) Competition patterns of resource use among seedlings of fire tropical trees grown at ambient and elevated CO2. Oecologia 79:212–222

  140. Reich P, Tjoelker M, Walters M, Vanderklein D, Buschena C (1998) Close association of RGR, leaf and root morphology, seed mass and shade tolerance in seedlings of nine boreal tree species grown in high and low light. Funct Ecol 12:327–338

  141. Sagar R, Singh JS (2004) Local plant species depletion in a tropical dry deciduous forest of northern India. Environ Conserv 3:55–62

  142. Sagar R, Pandey A, Singh JS (2012) Composition, species diversity, and biomass of the herbaceous community in dry tropical forest of northern India in relation to soil moisture and light intensity. Environmentalist 32:485–493

  143. Sakai AK, Allendorf FW, Holt JS (2001) The population biology of invasive species. Ann Rev Ecol Syst 32:305–332

  144. Salinas-Peba L, Parra-Tabla V, Campo J, Munguia-Rosas MA (2014) Survival and growth of dominant tree seedlings in seasonally tropical dry forests of Yucatan: site and fertilization effects. J Plant Ecol 7:470–479

  145. Sánchez-Coronado ME, Coates R, Castro-Colina L, Gamboa de Buen A, Páez-Valencia J, Barradas VL, Huante PA, Orozco-Segovia A (2007) Improving seed germination and seedling growth of Omphalea oleifera (Euphorbiaceae) for restoration projects in tropical rain forests. For Ecol Manag 243:144–155

  146. Sankaran M, Ratnam J, Hanan NP (2004) Tree–grass co-existence in savannas revisited: insights from an examination of assumptions and mechanisms invoked in existing models. Ecol Lett 7:480–490

  147. Sasaki S, Mori T (1981) Growth responses of dipterocarp seedlings to light. Malays For 44:319–345

  148. Schleicher J, Meyer KM, Wiegand K, Schurr FM, Ward D (2011) Disentangling facilitation and seed dispersal from environmental heterogeneity as mechanisms generating associations between savanna plants. J Veg Sci 22:1038–1048

  149. Schönbeck L, Lohbeck M, Bongers F, Ramos MM, Sterck F (2015) How do light and water acquisition strategies affect species selection during secondary succession in moist tropical forests? Forests 6:2047–2065

  150. Segura G, Balvanera P, Durán E, Pérez A (2003) Tree community structure and stem mortality along a water availability gradient in a Mexican tropical dry forest. Plant Ecol 169:259–271

  151. Sharma GP, Raghubanshi AS, Singh JS (2005) Lantana invasion: an overview. Weed Biol 5:157–165

  152. Sharma GP, Raizada P, Raghubanshi AS (2009) Hyptis suaveolens: an emerging invader of vindhyan plateau, India. Weed Biol Manag 9:185–191

  153. Sims D, Pearcy R (1994) Scaling sun and shade photosynthetic acclimation of Alocasia macrorrhiza to whole-plant performance–I. Carbon balance and allocation at different daily photon flux densities. Plant Cell Environ 17:881–887

  154. Singh RS (1993) Effect of winter fire on primary productivity and nutrient concentration of a dry tropical savanna. Vegetatio 106:63–71

  155. Singh JS (2002) The biodiversity crisis: a multifaceted review. Curr Sci 82:638–647

  156. Singh KP, Singh JS (1988) Certain structural and functional aspects of dry tropical forests and savanna. Int J Ecol Environ Sci 14:31–45

  157. Singh JS, Raghubanshi AS, Singh RS, Srivastava SC (1989) Microbial biomass acts as a source of plant nutrients in dry tropical. Nature 338:499–500

  158. Singh JS, Singh KP, Agrawal M (1991) Environmental degradation of the Obra–Renukoot–Singrauli area, India and its impact on natural and derived ecosystems. Environmentalist 11:171–180

  159. Skarpe C (1990) Shrub layer dynamics under different herbivore densities in an arid savanna, Botswana. J Appl Ecol 27:873–885

  160. Soriano D, Huante P, Gamboa-deBuen A, Orozco-Segovia A (2013) Effect of burial and storage on germination and seed reserves of 18 tree species in tropical deciduous forest in Mexico. Oecologia 174:33–44

  161. Srivastava P, Singh PK, Singh R, Bhadouria R et al (2016) Relative availability of inorganic N-pools shifts under land use change: an unexplored variable in soil carbon dynamics. Ecol Indic 64:228–236

  162. Stinson KA, Campbell SA, Powell JR, Wolfe BE, Callaway RM, Thelen GC, Hallett SG, Prati D, Klironomos JN (2006) Invasive plant suppresses the growth of native tree seedlings by disrupting below-ground mutualisms. PLoS Biol 4:727–731

  163. Tarrason G, Urrutia JT, Ravera F, Herrera E, Andre’s P, Espelta JM (2010) Conservation status of tropical dry forest remnants in Nicaragua: do ecological indicators and social perception tally? Biodivers Conserv 19:813–827

  164. Tesfaye G, Teketay D, Assefa Y, Fetene M (2004) The impact of fire on the soil seed bank and regeneration of Harenna forest, Southeastern Ethiopia. Mt Res Dev 24:354–361

  165. Thompson WA, Kriedemann PE, Craig IE (1992) Photosynthetic response to light and nutrients in sun-tolerant and shade-tolerant rainforest trees, I. Growth, leaf anatomy and nutrient content. Aust J Plant Physiol 19:1–18

  166. Tripathi SN, Raghubanshi AS (2014) Seedling growth of five tropical dry forest tree species in relation to light and nitrogen gradients. J Plant Ecol 7:250–263

  167. Turner IM (2001) The ecology of trees in the tropical rain forest. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

  168. Van Langevelde F, Van de Vijver C, Kumar L et al (2003) Effects of fire and herbivory on the stability of savanna ecosystems. Ecology 84:337–350

  169. Vargas G, Werden LK, Powers JS (2015) Explaining legume success in tropical dry forests based on seed germination niches: a new hypothesis. Biotropica 47:277–280

  170. Varma V, Iyengar SB, Sankaran M (2016) Effects of nutrient addition and soil drainage on germination of N-fixing and non-N-fixing tropical dry forest tree species. Plant Ecol 217:1043–1054

  171. Veenendaal EM, Swaine MD, Lecha RT, Walsh MF, Abebrese IK, Owusu-Afriyie K (1996) Reponses of West African forest tree seedlings to irradiance and soil fertility. Funct Ecol 10:501–511

  172. Veldman JW, Mostacedo B, Pena-Claros M, Putz FE (2009) Selective logging and fire as drivers of alien grass invasion in a Bolivian tropical dry forest. For Ecol Manag 258:1643–1649

  173. Venable DL (2007) Bet hedging in a guild of desert annuals. Ecology 88:1086–1090

  174. Vieira DLM, Scariot A (2006) Principles of natural regeneration of tropical dry forests for restoration. Restor Ecol 14:11–20

  175. Ward D (2009) The biology of deserts. Oxford University Press, Oxford

  176. Ward D, Esler KJ (2011) What are the effects of substrate and grass removal on recruitment of Acacia mellifera seedlings in a semi-arid environment? Plant Ecol 212:245–250

  177. Werner PA (2005) Impact of feral water buffalo and fire on growth and survival of mature savanna trees: an experimental field study in Kakadu National Park, northern Australia. Aust Ecol 30:625–647

  178. Whitmore TC (1975) Tropical rain forests of the far east, 1st edn. Clarendon Press, Oxford

  179. Wilson JB (1988) Shoot competition and root competition. J Appl Ecol 25:279–296

  180. Yanlong H, Mantang W, Shujun W, Yanhui Z, Tao M, Guozhen D (2007) Seed size effect on seedling growth under different light conditions in the clonal herb Ligularia virgaurea in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Acta Ecol Sin 27:3091–3108

  181. Yavitt JB, Wright SJ (2008) Seedling growth responses to water and nutrient augmentation in the understory of a low land moist forest, Panama. J Trop Ecol 24:19–26

Download references


Authors are highly thankful to Prof. J. S. Singh, Emeritus professor, Department of Botany, Institute of Science, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, for his valuable suggestions and discussions on the present topic. Financial support as research fellowship from the University Grants Commission (UGC) and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), New Delhi, India, is also acknowledged. Authors gratefully acknowledge the anonymous reviewers and handling editor for their critical suggestions and comments for improving the article to a great extent.

Author information

Correspondence to A. S. Raghubanshi.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Bhadouria, R., Srivastava, P., Singh, R. et al. Tree seedling establishment in dry tropics: an urgent need of interaction studies. Environ Syst Decis 37, 88–100 (2017) doi:10.1007/s10669-017-9625-x

Download citation


  • Climatic variability
  • Disturbance
  • Dry tropical ecosystems
  • Growth regulators
  • Herbivory
  • Plant community
  • Seedlings