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Forests 2015, 6(6), 2163-2177;

Natural Regeneration after Long-Term Bracken Fern Control with Balsa (Ochroma pyramidale) in the Neotropics

El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, ECOSUR, Carr. Panamericana y Periférico Sur s/n Barrio Ma. Auxiliadora, C.P. 29290, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico
Center for Latin American Studies, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
Madre de Dios Consortium, Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios 17001, Peru
Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (U.M.R. 5175-Campus du CNRS), 1919, Route de Mende, 34293 Montpellier, France
Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Blvd., PO Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63166-0299, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Andrew Vayda and Eric J. Jokela
Received: 19 January 2015 / Accepted: 3 June 2015 / Published: 16 June 2015
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [19504 KB, uploaded 16 June 2015]   |  


In many parts of the Neotropics, deforested areas are often colonized by the highly competitive invasive bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum), which inhabits naturally regenerated forests and successional forests on abandoned farmland. Within the tropical forest region of Chiapas in southern Mexico, we implemented an experiment in 2005 to out-compete bracken fern infestation and reduce or eliminate live bracken rhizomes using several treatments: Direct sowing of balsa seeds (Ochroma pyramidale; Malvaceae), a traditional Lacandon treatment of scattering balsa seeds, transplanting balsa seedlings, and a control treatment (without balsa). For each treatment, we applied three different bracken weeding frequencies: No weeding, biweekly weeding, and monthly weeding. In this study, we present data gathered four years after establishing the experiment regarding: Bracken fern rhizome biomass, balsa density, basal area, height, density, species richness of naturally regenerating vegetation for all treatments, and bracken weeding frequencies. We also evaluated the importance of balsa and its regenerative attributes in controlling bracken fern by correlating it with remaining belowground live rhizome biomass. Living rhizome biomass was completely eradicated in all treatments with biweekly and monthly weeding. Density and species richness of a naturally regenerated species were negatively correlated with bracken fern rhizome biomass, and the density of this species was highest in areas with no rhizome biomass. Although balsa tree stands are effective short-term solutions for controlling rhizome biomass, the success of natural regeneration following balsa establishment can be critical to long-term elimination of bracken fern. View Full-Text
Keywords: bracken fern eradication; direct sowing; species regeneration; transplanting; weeding bracken fern eradication; direct sowing; species regeneration; transplanting; weeding

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Levy-Tacher, S.I.; Vleut, I.; Román-Dañobeytia, F.; Aronson, J. Natural Regeneration after Long-Term Bracken Fern Control with Balsa (Ochroma pyramidale) in the Neotropics. Forests 2015, 6, 2163-2177.

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