About this Research Topic
Recent research shows that tropical forests are experiencing changes driven by many factors including deforestation and fragmentation, over-exploitation, invasive species, wildfires, insect and pathogen outbreaks, drought, windstorms and other climatically-enhanced events. Due to climate change, these disturbance events are becoming unprecedented in their frequency, extent and intensity. There is increasing concern that they may impact natural forest regeneration processes and drive rare and sensitive tropical woody plant species along an extinction trajectory. Although natural regeneration has potential to enhance ecological resilience, support local biodiversity, and provide ecosystem goods and services, it is often overlooked as an approach that can be aligned with biodiversity conservation goals, ecological restoration and climate change mitigation targets. Promoting natural forest regeneration may actually be less costly and more effective for restoring ecosystem functions.
With ongoing global environmental changes, tropical forests are already facing rapid changes in disturbance regimes caused by multiple disturbance agents that may limit their capacity to recover following disturbances. In the tropical region, forest disturbances negatively impact the socio-economic development of local communities as they often depend directly on natural forest resources. Although previous studies have advanced our knowledge of disturbance mechanisms in tropical forests thus far, we still lack knowledge of the interactive effects of multiple disturbances on regeneration dynamics and processes. In order to help policy-makers determine when natural regeneration makes the most economic and ecological sense, more proactive research is needed to develop a model that can predict ecosystem resilience and recovery. Understanding the complex disturbance interactions that affect natural regeneration is critical for planning and forest management activities in a changing tropical environment.
This research topic aims to bring together studies analyzing the effects of natural and anthropogenic disturbances on natural forest regeneration in the tropical region. We welcome studies based on experiments, ground observation, meta-analysis, remote sensing and modelling approaches, focusing on the following topics:
• Effects of multiple disturbances on natural regeneration including on propagule production capacity of native woody plant species, seed dispersal, seed predation, or seedling emergence and establishment;
• Effects of long-term exposure to frequent disturbances on resprouting woody plant species;
• Resilience and post-disturbance successional trajectories;
• The legacy of forest disturbance on natural regeneration;
• Selective factors driving the evolution of root suckering and seeding strategies in disturbance-prone tropical environments;
• Partnering with nature to suppress disturbances and promote forest regeneration.
Keywords: Forest Disturbance, Natural Regeneration, Climate Change, Tropical Forests, Woody Plants
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.