Pattern and process in neotropical secondary rain forests: the first 100 years of succession

Trends Ecol Evol. 1996 Mar;11(3):119-24. doi: 10.1016/0169-5347(96)81090-1.


More and more areas of deforested wet tropical lands are being handed back to nature as their erstwhile owners abandon attempts to farm them. The resulting secondary successions offer hope that some of the unique characteristics of the original rain forests may be recovered and conserved. However, most of our understanding of what secondary tropical rain forests are and how and why they develop is limited to the first decade of a process that may last for centuries. A longer-term view indicates that the causes of change in neotropical secondary successions are similar to those operating in temperate forests, but yields sobering conclusions for conservation.