Abandoned pastures regenerate to low diversity forests without intervention

The Applied Ecologist's Blog

To start the week, Associate Editor, Cate Macinnis-Ng comments on the recently published article, Abandoned pastures cannot spontaneously recover the attributes of old-growth savannas by Cava et al.

Savanna ecosystems of the seasonally dry tropics cover almost 20% of the earth’s land area. Maintenance of biodiversity in savannas relies on the right amounts of grazing and fire. While overgrazing of savannas is a common threat, a recent paper by Cava et al. shows that simply allowing passive restoration of abandonded pasture sites does not result in a return to an ‘old growth’ savanna in the Brazilian Cerrado.

Using time since abandonment to create a simulation of restoration of pasture through time, the authors found that cover and richness of tree species recovered in about 28 years with minimal intervention. However, the biodiversity of the ground layer did not recover because the understorey was dominated by a small number of…

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