Plant-canopy Effects on Natural Regeneration in Sites Under Restoration: Do Tree Species Matter?

ABSTRACT How does species choice influence ecological restoration outcomes? In order to answer this question, the goal of this study was to assess the community structure and species richness of natural regeneration beneath the canopy of four native species from the Atlantic Forest (Guarea guidonia (L.) Sleumer; Inga edulis Mart; Nectandra membranacea (SW) Griseb; and, Piptadenia gonoacantha (Mart.) J.F. Macbr). The research was carried out in plantations of native tree species at the Guapiaçu Ecological Reserve, in Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. Our results pointed that abundance, basal area and species richness were significantly higher beneath Inga compared to Nectandra and Guarea. Whereas the lowest values observed in Guarea may suggest its negative effects under natural regeneration. Therefore, we highlighted that the positive or negative biological effects of tree species, instead of their simple response (mortality and initial growth), must be considered in ecological restoration projects.