Natura y Ecosistemas Mexicanos AC

Alvaro Obregón, Mexico

Natura y Ecosistemas Mexicanos AC

Alvaro Obregón, Mexico
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Meli P.,Natura y Ecosistemas Mexicanos A.C. | Meli P.,University of Sao Paulo | Holl K.D.,University of California at Santa Cruz | Benayas J.M.R.,Fundacion Internacional para la Restauracion de Ecosistemas | And 9 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2017

Global forest restoration targets have been set, yet policy makers and land managers lack guiding principles on how to invest limited resources to achieve them. We conducted a meta-analysis of 166 studies in naturally regenerating and actively restored forests worldwide to answer: (1) To what extent do floral and faunal abundance and diversity and biogeochemical functions recover? (2) Does recovery vary as a function of past land use, time since restoration, forest region, or precipitation? (3) Does active restoration result in more complete or faster recovery than passive restoration? Overall, forests showed a high level of recovery, but the time to recovery depended on the metric type measured, past land use, and region. Abundance recovered quickly and completely, whereas diversity recovered slower in tropical than in temperate forests. Biogeochemical functions recovered more slowly after agriculture than after logging or mining. Formerly logged sites were mostly passively restored and generally recovered quickly. Mined sites were nearly always actively restored using a combination of planting and either soil amendments or recontouring topography, which resulted in rapid recovery of the metrics evaluated. Actively restoring former agricultural land, primarily by planting trees, did not result in consistently faster or more complete recovery than passively restored sites. Our results suggest that simply ending the land use is sufficient for forests to recover in many cases, but more studies are needed that directly compare the value added of active versus passive restoration strategies in the same system. Investments in active restoration should be evaluated relative to the past land use, the natural resilience of the system, and the specific objectives of each project. © 2017 Meli et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Ramirez-Mejia D.,National Autonomous University of Mexico | Cuevas G.,National Autonomous University of Mexico | Meli P.,Natura y Ecosistemas Mexicanos A.C. | Mendoza E.,Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo
Botanical Sciences | Year: 2017

Background: Human impact over natural ecosystems located in Southern Mexico is increasingly evident. We generated a spatially explicit land use and cover change (LUCC) model to assess current and potential impact of human activities and to identify the influence of variables such as: distance to paved and unpaved roads, human settlements, rivers, slope and protected areas. Study site: Mesoamerican Biological Corridor located in the state of Chiapas (MBC-Ch), Mexico. Methods: We calibrated a model for the period 1993-2002 and ran a simulation for 2007 which we compared against the real 2007 land use and cover map to evaluate model's performance. We then projected LUCC to 2030 under three different scenarios: 1) Agriculture and Livestock (AGL), 2) Business As Usual (BAU) and, 3) Conservation (CON). Results: Proximity to roads and settlements increased deforestation probabilities whereas the presence of natural protected areas had the opposite effect. The AGL scenario predicted a reduction of 43 and 41 % in the extent of closed tropical and temperate forests, respectively. In comparison, the BAU scenario predicted a reduction of 19.5 % in the area covered by closed tropical forest and of 30.1 % in temperate forests. The extent of land destined to agriculture and livestock activities increased by 22 and 15 % in the AGL and BAU scenarios, respectively. In contrast, the CON scenario predicted slight changes in the landscape. Conclusions: Our simulations indicate that it is highly probable to see a marked decay in the extent (and likely integrity) of natural habitats in the MBC-Ch region if a comprehensive series of management actions are not urgently implemented.

Moreno-Mateos D.,Basque Center for Climate Change 3 | Moreno-Mateos D.,Ikerbasque | Moreno-Mateos D.,Stanford University | Meli P.,Natura y Ecosistemas Mexicanos A.C. | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Applied Ecology | Year: 2015

Current efforts to restore and create ecosystems require greater understanding of ecosystems' responses to commonly used physical and biological intervention approaches to overcome ecological and technological limitations. We estimated effect sizes from measurements of biotic assemblage structure and biogeochemical functions at 628 restored and created wetlands globally, in comparison with 499 reference wetlands. We studied the recovery trajectories of wetlands where different restoration or creation approaches were used under different environmental settings. Although the variance explained by a linear mixed-effects models was low (6-7%), the study of recovery trajectories showed that the restoration or creation approach had no significant effects in most environmental settings. In particular, wetlands where surface modification and flow re-establishment were used followed similar recovery trajectories regardless of whether they were revegetated or not. We even found potential detrimental effects of biological manipulations on the recovery of the plant assemblage, particularly in cold climates and in wetlands restored or created in agricultural areas. Since physical interventions are required to recover or create the hydrological conditions of degraded or new wetlands, and given the high cost (22-73%) of biological interventions (i.e. revegetation), the need for biological interventions is, in most cases, unclear. Our results highlight the urgent need to increase our understanding of the long-term effects of restoration and creation actions in our aim to engage in large-scale ecosystem management strategies for wetlands. Synthesis and applications. These results suggest that, currently, the recovery and development processes of restored and created wetlands can be driven by spontaneous processes rather than by the response of wetlands to human interventions other than those targeted to restore hydrological conditions that existed prior to disturbance. However, given the synthetic nature of the data set, the mixed nature of available data and the limited number of measures we found to estimate recovery, caution must be exercised when adapting the results presented here to the planning and execution of specific ecosystem restoration projects. These results suggest that, currently, the recovery and development processes of restored and created wetlands can be driven by spontaneous processes rather than by the response of wetlands to human interventions other than those targeted to restore hydrological conditions that existed prior to disturbance. However, given the synthetic nature of the data set, the mixed nature of available data and the limited number of measures we found to estimate recovery, caution must be exercised when adapting the results presented here to the planning and execution of specific ecosystem restoration projects. © 2015 British Ecological Society.

Meli P.,Natura y Ecosistemas Mexicanos A.C. | Rey Benayas J.M.,University of Alcalá | Martinez Ramos M.,National Autonomous University of Mexico | Carabias J.,National Autonomous University of Mexico
New Forests | Year: 2015

Anthropogenic disturbances frequently exceed resilience of riparian forests. In small-scale restoration projects revegetation is a common technique, but its success depends on the plant species used and some environmental filters. We investigated whether grass competition and soil compaction together with seasonal drought and flooding limit the establishment of seven tree species experimentally planted in abandoned riparian pastures in Southern Mexico. We tested the effects of grass clearing and soil tilling and analyzed seasonal variation of vertical distance to water level, and changes in tree performance, microclimate, and vegetation biomass after planting. Seedling survival was low (19 ± 3 %), ranging between 3 (Brosimum alicastrum, Moraceae) and 38 % (Pachira aquatica, Bombacaceae). Survival was negatively correlated to vertical distance to water level, highlighting the importance of the short but severe dry season that may occur in the humid tropics, which reduced survival by >60 %. Flooding events also produced high seedling mortality (80 % after the two first events). Clearing but not tilling enhanced seedling survival. Clearing also significantly increased seedling growth of some species, suggesting competition release. Tilling did not have any consistent effect on growth, but it appears to counteract the positive effects of clearing. Both pre-existing and planted trees ameliorated microclimate to produce better conditions for establishment of new trees following natural regeneration. We conclude that clearing can enhance seedling establishment in riparian abandoned tropical pastures, but other revegetation treatments intended to reduce soil drying and uprooting by flooding during early establishment should be evaluated to improve the cost-benefit of restoring riparian forest. © 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Meli P.,Natura y Ecosistemas Mexicanos A.C. | Meli P.,University of Alcalá | Martinez-Ramos M.,National Autonomous University of Mexico | Rey-Benayas J.M.,University of Alcalá
Restoration Ecology | Year: 2013

In revegetation projects, distinguishing species that can be passively restored by natural regeneration from those requiring active restoration is not a trivial decision. We quantified tree species dominance (measured by an importance value index, IVIi) and used abundance-size correlations to select those species suitable for passive and/or active restoration of disturbed riparian vegetation in the Lacandonia region, Southern Mexico. We sampled riparian vegetation in a 50×10-m transect in each of six reference (RE) and five disturbed (DE) riparian ecosystems. Those species representing more than 50% of total IVI in each ecosystem were selected, and Spearman rank correlation between abundance and diameter classes was calculated. For eight species, it was determined that passive restoration could be sufficient for their establishment. Another eight species could be transplanted by means of active restoration. Five species regenerate well in only one ecosystem type, suggesting that both restoration strategies could be used depending on the degree of degradation. Finally, two species were determined to not be suitable for restoration in the RE (based on the above selection criteria) and were not selected during this initial stage of our restoration project. The high number of tree species found in the RE suggests that the species pool for ecological restoration is large. However, sampling in both ecosystem types helped us reduce the number of species that requires active restoration. Restoration objectives must guide the selection of which methods to implement; in different conditions, other criteria such as dispersal syndrome or social value could be considered in the species selection. © 2013 Society for Ecological Restoration.

Meli P.,Natura y Ecosistemas Mexicanos A.C. | Martinez-Ramos M.,National Autonomous University of Mexico | Rey-Benayas J.M.,University of Alcalá | Carabias J.,National Autonomous University of Mexico
Applied Vegetation Science | Year: 2014

Question: How to evaluate and integrate relevant ecological, social and technical criteria to select species to be introduced in restoration projects of highly diverse ecosystems such as tropical riparian forests. Location: Riparian forest, Marqués de Comillas municipality, southeast Mexico (16°54′N, 92°05′W). Methods: We proposed a 'species selection index' (SSI) using five independent criteria related to ecological, social and technical information. SSI targeted species that (1) are important in the reference forest; (2) are less likely to establish following disturbance; (3) are not specific to a particular habitat; (4) are socially accepted; and (5) their propagation requires a reasonable time and financial investment. SSI may range between zero and 50, with higher values meaning higher potential for restoration purposes. Results: Out of a local pool of 97 species, we identified 30 target tree species that together represented >60% of total importance value index in the reference riparian forests. SSI averaged 28.3 ± 1.0 over the studied species, suggesting that species with high values are not frequent. For 20 species, reintroduction by means of active forest restoration was deemed necessary. Species that established through natural regeneration, following secondary regrowth, had lower social value among local farmers. Nearly half of the identified species showed technical constraints for easy propagation and seeding. Conclusions: The proposed procedure is useful for selecting species to initiate forest restoration projects and of other woody ecosystems that harbour high biodiversity, and is suitable for several stakeholders interested in restoration. © 2014 International Association for Vegetation Science.

Meli P.,Natura y Ecosistemas Mexicanos A.C. | Meli P.,University of Alcalá | Benayas J.M.R.,University of Alcalá | Balvanera P.,National Autonomous University of Mexico | Ramos M.M.,National Autonomous University of Mexico
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Wetlands are valuable ecosystems because they harbor a huge biodiversity and provide key services to societies. When natural or human factors degrade wetlands, ecological restoration is often carried out to recover biodiversity and ecosystem services (ES). Although such restorations are routinely performed, we lack systematic, evidence-based assessments of their effectiveness on the recovery of biodiversity and ES. Here we performed a meta-analysis of 70 experimental studies in order to assess the effectiveness of ecological restoration and identify what factors affect it. We compared selected ecosystem performance variables between degraded and restored wetlands and between restored and natural wetlands using response ratios and random-effects categorical modeling. We assessed how context factors such as ecosystem type, main agent of degradation, restoration action, experimental design, and restoration age influenced post-restoration biodiversity and ES. Biodiversity showed excellent recovery, though the precise recovery depended strongly on the type of organisms involved. Restored wetlands showed 36% higher levels of provisioning, regulating and supporting ES than did degraded wetlands. In fact, wetlands showed levels of provisioning and cultural ES similar to those of natural wetlands; however, their levels of supporting and regulating ES were, respectively, 16% and 22% lower than in natural wetlands. Recovery of biodiversity and of ES were positively correlated, indicating a win-win restoration outcome. The extent to which restoration increased biodiversity and ES in degraded wetlands depended primarily on the main agent of degradation, restoration actions, experimental design, and ecosystem type. In contrast, the choice of specific restoration actions alone explained most differences between restored and natural wetlands. These results highlight the importance of comprehensive, multifactorial assessment to determine the ecological status of degraded, restored and natural wetlands and thereby evaluate the effectiveness of ecological restorations. Future research on wetland restoration should also seek to identify which restoration actions work best for specific habitats. © 2014 Meli et al.

Meli P.,Natura y Ecosistemas Mexicanos AC | Landa R.,Centro Interdisciplinario Of Biodiversidad Y Ambiente Ac | Lopez-Medellin X.,Autonomous University of the State of Morelos | Carabias J.,National Autonomous University of Mexico
Ecosystems | Year: 2015

Understanding social perceptions of rural communities is essential to construct public policy and management alternatives, not only to maintain natural ecosystems but also to deal with a changing environment due to climatic change. Because climate variability in Mexico has important socio-economic and environmental impacts, it is necessary to build capacities for adaptation. We describe social perceptions of three main local stakeholders (that is, farmers, elders, and local authorities), regarding their relationships with rainforest and local adaptation to climate change in eleven rural communities in Marqués de Comillas municipality, Chiapas, Southern Mexico. We based in a qualitative approach and used participant observation and semi-structured interviews. Even certain subtly variation among stakeholders, we recognized some underlying ideas behind perceptions. Rainforest is considered crucial to maintain human livelihoods and to mitigate climatic changes. They perceived changes in climate occurring in the region, such as raising temperature, unpredictable rainfall, and streams becoming dry. Local organization and government involved in managing rainforest or dealing with climatic changes are practically absent. This emphasizes the needs bring proper and reliable information to make decisions regarding rainforest use and management, but also to adapt to a changing climate. The loss of the collective character of the communities and, certain conflicts in public policies that mirrored in the coexistence of initiatives with contrasting objectives are proposed as particularly important for understanding the emergence of these perceptions. We proposed some recommendations to bolster regional capacities addressing climate change. Involving stakeholders such as governmental and non-governmental institutions is also imperative. © 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.

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