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Individual Highlight

Riparian Vegetation Restoration in Light of Succession; Management Implications for Restoration in Tropical Secondary Forests

Photo of Forest succession at research site plot in the Chiclana stream, part of the Rio Piedras watershed. Top photo 2006, below 2010. A pluvial structure is marked at the right of each photo for reference. Harold Manrique-Hernandez, San Juan Bay Estuary Program.Forest succession at research site plot in the Chiclana stream, part of the Rio Piedras watershed. Top photo 2006, below 2010. A pluvial structure is marked at the right of each photo for reference. Harold Manrique-Hernandez, San Juan Bay Estuary Program.Snapshot : There is a wide variety of approaches on how to determine when a river restoration project can be considered ecologically successful. The limited information on tropical river and riparian restoration responses makes this practice a subjective component of river management. Considering the role of succession in restoration efforts may change priorities of restoration project actions in tropical streams.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Heartsill Scalley, Tamara 
Research Location : San Juan, Puerto Rico
Research Station : International Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 1153

Summary

An assessment of riparian vegetation restoration outcomes for a tropical headwater stream revealed that recovery of riparian vegetation in the impacted area occurred through natural succession and not due to vegetation restoration actions. The investment made in vegetation restoration actions did not establish the vegetation cover mandated. Restoration investment efforts in headwater streams should therefore focus on hydrological features as an initial step towards cost effective rehabilitation and recovery of stream ecosystems. This study suggests that restoration managers should focus on streambank surface structures and channel heterogeneity elements such as riffles and pools to facilitate on-going natural vegetation succession. Appropriate prioritizing of stream and riparian restoration components yields more effective efforts. Once flow and substrate conditions are returned to the restored stream reach, then follow up vegetation restoration can address species composition and structure along riparian to upland gradients.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Harold Manrique-Hernandez, San Juan Bay Estuary Program
  • Jorge Ortiz-Zayas, University of Puerto Rico