Human land use has modified the structure and function of terrestrial landscapes throughout much of the world, with cropping and livestock grazing the major drivers of landscape change. In many tropical, sub-tropical, temperate and Mediterranean regions, regrowth forests regenerate naturally on abandoned agricultural land if human disturbance declines. With the exception of some tropical forest literature, the broader ecological and conservation literature has largely ignored the potential of regrowth forests to facilitate passive landscape restoration and the recovery of fauna communities in fragmented agricultural landscapes. This paper addresses this deficiency by reviewing the available global evidence of fauna recovery in regrowth forest from 68 papers, identifying the main gaps in current knowledge, and providing directions for further research. The majority of reviewed studies focus on regrowth in tropical regions, which often contain large areas of mature forest. Species’ utilisation of regrowth forest is highly variable and is particularly influenced by land-use history, an important determinant of the structural and compositional characteristics of regrowth forests. While site-scale (<1 ha) forest structure and floristic diversity were frequently studied, only 11 studies considered the spatial configuration and context of habitat patches and just two studies explicitly considered landscape structure. Based on this review, six key research questions are posed to direct future research on this important issue. We conclude that a broader perspective of the role of regrowth forest in the landscape is required if we are to realise the potential benefits of regrowth forest for passive landscape restoration and fauna conservation and recovery.
Biological Conservation – Elsevier
Published: Dec 1, 2007
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