My research focuses on the factors influencing the recruitment of seedlings in planted forests. Large-scale tree planting projects are increasingly relied upon in efforts to mitigate rising atmospheric CO2 and to restore global forests. There is a growing body of research into best practice for the initial planting, but less is known about how these practices affect the development of the forest community.
I will be conducting fieldwork in a planted forest on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico to assess the relative contributions of factors such as microenvironment, overstory diversity and former land use to the diversity and abundance of tree seedlings in the understory. This work will have two aims. Firstly, to test whether core theories about community ecology translate to forests that have been planted for carbon capture and ecosystem restoration purposes. Secondly, to provide critical data-based guidance for practitioners on the ground to maximise the success of this tree planting project.