Post-agricultural studies have been central to the development of both the science of plant ecology and ecology in general. The study of old field succession allows us to observe the development of the structure and function of communities, as well as understand the role of history and initial conditions in that process. Understanding old field succession can help the public address important scientific and social issues, such as deforestation and forest regeneration, forest restoration, sustainability of agriculture, maintenance of biodiversity, and impacts of global climate change on forest dynamics.
Post-Agricultural Succession in the Neotropics draws implications from scientific studies for the wise management of old field ecosystems in the neotropics, where conversion of land to cropping systems is the most common kind of disturbance and many landscapes are defined by areas recovering from agriculture. Written for scientists, researchers, professionals, and students of ecology, the book provides a background in old field ecosystems and proposes restoration strategies and a trajectory for future research. Farmers and decision makers can also benefit from new farming methodologies and management strategies that are proposed.
Part I Patterns of Post-Agricultural Succession: Introduction and Vegetation Pattern Analysis from Permanent Plots after Banana, Sugarcane, and Pasture in Puerto Rico and Ecuador.- Patterns of Soil Carbon Along a Pasture-Forest Chronosequence in Puerto Rico.- Carbon Patterns in Landscapes After Human Use in the Neotropics.- Microbial Communities After Agriculture.- Ecosystem and Nitrogen Patterns After Plantation and Pasture Recovery.- Earthworm Dynamics in Neotropical Pastures.- Soil Fungi and Macrofauna Recovery in Puerto Rican Pastures.- Part II Processes and Mechanisms of Change after Agriculture: Successional Mechanisms in Fields of Guatemala and Nicaragua.- Seed Dispersal by Cattle and Livestock.- Recovery of Island Pastures in the Neotropics.- Seed Dispersal by Bats in Mexico.- Bird Effects on Pasture Recovery.- Part III Management and Restoration in Pastures and After Crops in the Neotropics: Climate Change, Exotic Plant Invasion, and the Restoration of Pastures into Forests.- Arbusicular Mycorrhizal (AM) Fungi and its Use in Pasture Restoration.- Pasture Management and Restoration.- Synthesis, Conclusions, and Objectives for Future Research.
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Randall W. Myster is Assistant Professor in the Biology Department of the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, OK, USA.