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Scattered trees throughout active pastures conserve biodiversity

A research paper published in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment reports a study conducted by a team from the Federal University of Lavras on how scattered trees in active pastures support the biodiversity of the ecosystems around the area and help promote forest recovery.

  • The research team investigated an area of 618.59 hectares (ha) in Southeastern Brazil composed of active pastures of an African grass, signal grass (Urochloa decumbens), with scattered trees and forest patches.
  • The researchers surveyed all the scattered trees in the active pastures and in 60 plots of 200 m2 within eight forest patches.
  • The team assessed regeneration, distance of propagules source, grass cover, microclimate, seed rain, and soil compaction under scattered tree crowns and in samples in the pastures without scattered trees.
  • The findings reveal that the scattered tree community is highly diverse. The researchers associate this with the farmers’ preference for large tree species over small ones during the clearing process for pasture, and found this to be the major difference between forest patches and scattered tree communities.
  • The researchers also found that the scattered trees influence seed rain and sapling regeneration and improve microclimate, as well as attract dispersers. The team notes that this last effect is strongly dependent on the distance from forest remnants.

The findings suggest that the scattered trees may be key factors in supporting forest recovery, as well as conserving biodiversity in highly fragmented landscapes.

Journal Reference:

Siqueira FCAF, Calasans LV, Furtado RQ, Carneiro VMC, Berg EVD. HOW SCATTERED TREES MATTER FOR BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION IN ACTIVE PASTURES. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment. 2017;250:12–19. DOI:

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