Sustainability 2013, 5(3), 1317-1339; doi:10.3390/su5031317
Article

Restoring Native Forest Understory: The Influence of Ferns and Light in a Hawaiian Experiment

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Received: 12 January 2013; in revised form: 7 February 2013 / Accepted: 15 February 2013 / Published: 20 March 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Terrestrial Ecosystem Restoration)
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Abstract: Ecological restoration is an increasingly important component of sustainable land management. We explore potential facilitative relationships for enhancing the cost-effectiveness of restoring native forest understory, focusing on two factors: (1) overstory shade and (2) possible facilitation by a fern (Dryopteris wallichiana), one of few native colonists of pasture in our montane Hawaiˈi study system. We planted 720 understory tree seedlings and over 4000 seeds of six species under six planting treatments: a full factorial combination of low, medium and high light, situating plantings in either the presence or absence of a mature fern. After three years, 75% of outplanted seedlings survived. Seedling survivorship was significantly higher in the presence of a fern (79% vs. 71% without a fern) and in medium and low light conditions (81% vs. 64% in high light). Relative height was highest at low to medium light levels. After 2.2 years, 2.8% of the planted seeds germinated. We observed no significant differences in seed germination relative to light level or fern presence. Analyzing several approaches, we found nursery germination of seeds followed by outplanting ca. 20% less costly than direct seeding in the field. This study opens new questions about facilitation mechanisms that have the potential to increase the extent and effectiveness of restoration efforts.
Keywords: alalā (Hawaiian Crow; Corvus hawaiiensis); biodiversity conservation; economic costs of restoration; interspecific facilitation; land-use change; pasture; private lands; tropical forest restoration
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.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Gould, R.K.; Mooney, H.; Nelson, L.; Shallenberger, R.; Daily, G.C. Restoring Native Forest Understory: The Influence of Ferns and Light in a Hawaiian Experiment. Sustainability 2013, 5, 1317-1339.

AMA Style

Gould RK, Mooney H, Nelson L, Shallenberger R, Daily GC. Restoring Native Forest Understory: The Influence of Ferns and Light in a Hawaiian Experiment. Sustainability. 2013; 5(3):1317-1339.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Gould, Rachelle K.; Mooney, Harold; Nelson, Laura; Shallenberger, Robert; Daily, Gretchen C. 2013. "Restoring Native Forest Understory: The Influence of Ferns and Light in a Hawaiian Experiment." Sustainability 5, no. 3: 1317-1339.


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