Marinés de la Peña-Domene
Research: Integrating rainforest conservation to the agricultural landscape
Abstract: Extensive deforestation, habitat fragmentation, and over-grazing put tropical communities at universal risk of destruction. Maintaining regeneration potential in highly fragmented landscapes is critical for conservation. Our work takes place in Los Tuxtlas Reserve a region consisting of a matrix of pastures, forest fragments and continuous forest where connectivity between increasingly isolated fragments has been lost. We will test an approach to establishing connectivity among fragments with methods useful for local residents with plantings of economically important tree species. Planted plots will work as stepping stones connecting fragmented landscapes, assisting conservation of tropical species and maintain integrity of forest communities. Our plantings have decreased dispersal limitation by increasing the visitation of animal dispersers and the influx of forest seeds. Establishment limitation due to competition with grasses is still limiting. We will improve our experimental design to overcome establishment limitations and apply a communication strategy to increase landowners applying an integrated landscape scheme.