Healing the Scars video

Healing the Scars video

This ‘Healing the Scars’ video features scientists who took part in creating this TRIALs project. Included are: Gary Hartshorn, Richard Fisher, Rebecca Butterfield, Eugenio Gonzalez, Deborah Clark, & Gerardo Bukowski.

Tree seedlings grown in a nursery in 1988.


Tree seedlings transported to "El Peje" plots by boat.

Reforestation of degraded lands in the tropics became an active area of research In the late 1980's.

Dr. Richard Fisher, Dr. Gary Hartshorn, Dr. Rebecca Butterfield, Dr. Eugenio González and collaborators established experimental plantations of 11 tree species in 1988 in recently abandoned pasture that had been grazed for ~30 years. This experiment was one of many projects initiated, at La Selva and nearby, in the late 1980's under the umbrella project name of TRIALS (ENSAYOS). The plots used in the ECOS project were known as the 'Peje Plots' because the site is situated near the Peje River. When the plots were established, the paved bike path did not exist, so the easiest access to the plots was by boat.

No research was conducted on these plots from 1995 to 2003. The Peje Plots have been revitalized under the guidance of the ECOS project investigators, Dr. Eugenio González, Dr. James Raich and Dr. Ann Russell.

Baseline soil data were collected from these plots in 1987. Trees were planted at a spacing of 3 x 3 m, and were thinned to 50% of original density after 3 yr (González and Fisher 1994, Haggar et al. 1997, Powers et al. 1997).

Trees planted in abandoned pasture in 1988

Trees (Virola koschnyi ) in 2003

Site Preparation and Selection and Young Trees

Selecting an experimental site

Cutting pasture grass

Site preparation and tree planting

View 1: Beginning of experiment

View 1: At ~1 year after tree planting

Hyeronima alchorneoides, <1 year old

Hyeronima alchorneoides, ~ 1-2 years old

Pentaclethra macroloba, ~ 1-2 years old

Vochysia guatemalensis, 1 to 2 years old

Inga edulis, ~2 years old, Rebecca Butterfield


Literature cited:

González, J. E. and R. F. Fisher. 1994. Growth of native forest species planted on abandoned pasture land in Costa Rica. For. Ecol. Managem. 70: 159-167.

Haggar, J. P., K. Wightman and R. F. Fisher. 1997. The potential of plantations to foster woody regeneration within a deforested landscape in lowland Costa Rica. For. Ecol. Managem. 99: 55-64.

Powers, J. S., J. P. Haggar and R. F. Fisher. 1997. The effect of overstory composition on understory woody regeneration and species richness in 7-year-old plantations in Costa Rica.  Forest Ecology and Management 99: 43-54.

Citations Regarding La Selva Climate and Soils:

Fisher, R.F. 1995. Amelioration of degraded rain forest soils by plantations of native trees. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 59:544-549.

Matlock, R., Jr. and G. Hartshorn. 1999. La Selva Biological Station (OTS). Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 80: 188-193.

McDade, L., K. Bawa, H. Hespenheide and G. Hartshorn, eds. 1994. La Selva: Ecology and Natural History of a Neotropical Rainforest. Univ. Chicago Press, Chicago: 486 pp.

Sanford, R.L. Jr., P. Paaby, J.C. Luvall, and E. Phillips. 1994. Climate geomorphology, and aquatic systems. Pp. 19-33 In: L.A. McDade et al. (ed.) La Selva: Ecology and natural history of a neotropical rain forest. Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Related Citations:

Haggar, J. P and J. J. Ewel. 1997. Primary productivity and resource partitioning in model tropical ecosystems. Ecology 78: 1211-1221.

Hartshorn, G. and N.Bynum. 1999. Tropical forest synergies. Science 286: 2093-2094.

Hartshorn, G. 2000. Tropical and subtropical vegetation of Mesoamerica. Pages 623-659 in M. Barbour and D. Billings, eds. North American

Terrestrial Vegetation, 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press.

Montagnini, F., K. Ramstad and F. Sancho. 1993. Litterfall, litter decomposition and the use of mulch of four indigenous tree species in the Atlantic lowlands of Costa Rica. Agroforestry Systems 23: 39-61.

Haggar, J. P., C. B. Briscoe and R. P. Butterfield. 1998. Native species: A resource for the diversification of forestry production in the lowland humid tropics. For. Ecol. Managem. 106: 195-201.

Russell, A. E. 2002. Relationships between functional crop diversity and soil attributes in southwestern Indian agroecosystems. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 92: 235-249.

Russell, A.E., C. A. Cambardella, and J. J. Ewel. 2004. Species, rotation, and life-form-diversity effects on soil carbon in experimental tropical ecosystems. Ecological Applications 14: 47-60.

Russell, A.E., J.W. Raich, and P.M. Vitousek. 1998. The ecology of the climbing fern Dicranopteris linearis on windward Mauna Loa, Hawai'i, USA. J. Ecol. 86: 765-779.

Stanley, W. G. and F. Montagnini. 1999. Biomass and nutrient accumulation in pure and mixed plantations of indigenous tree species grown on poor soils in the humid tropics of Costa Rica. For. Ecol. Managem. 113: 91-103.

Stone, D. and G. Hartshorn. 1997. OTS as an institution for conservation biology. Pages 569-570 in G. Meffe and R. Carroll, eds. Principles of Conservation Biology, 2nd ed. Sinauer Associates.