New Forests

, Volume 50, Issue 2, pp 255–266 | Cite as

How can my research paper be useful for future meta-analyses on forest restoration plantations?

  • Enrique AndiviaEmail author
  • Pedro Villar-Salvador
  • Juan A. Oliet
  • Jaime Puértolas
  • R. Kasten Dumroese


Statistical meta-analysis is a powerful and useful tool to quantitatively synthesize the information conveyed in published studies on a particular topic. It allows identifying and quantifying overall patterns and exploring causes of variation. The inclusion of published works in meta-analyses requires, however, a minimum quality standard of the reported data and information on the methodology used. Our experience with conducting a meta-analysis on the relationship between seedling quality and field performance is that nearly one third of the apparently relevant publications had to be discarded because essential data, usually statistical dispersion parameters, were not properly reported. In addition, we encountered substantial difficulty to explore the effect of covariates due to the poor description of nursery cultivation methods, plantation location, and management in a significant proportion of the selected primary studies. Thus, we present guidelines for improving methodology detail and data presentation so that future forest restoration-oriented research can be more readily incorporated into meta-analyses. In general, research studies should report data on means, sample size, and any measure of variation even if they are not statistically significant. The online availability of raw data is the best practice to facilitate the inclusion of primary research on meta-analyses. Providing full information about the production of nursery seedlings, such as plant material and experimental conditions, is essential to test whether these procedures might have an effect on seedling quality. In addition, detailed information about field trials such as site climate, soil preparation techniques, previous land use, or post-plantation management, is needed to elucidate whether seedling quality is context-dependent. Thus, we provide a detailed checklist of important information that should be included when reporting forest restoration research involving the use of nursery-produced seedlings. All this will help to quantitatively synthetize current state-of-knowledge and thus contribute to the advancement of the forest restoration discipline.


Data quality Data reporting Meta-analysis Methodology guideline Seedling quality Research synthesis 



This work was supported by the network Remedinal-3 (S2013/MAE-2719) of the Community of Madrid and Project CGL2014-53308-P SERAVI of the MINECO. EA was supported by the postdoctoral Grant “Ayudas para contratos para la formación postdoctoral” (FPDI-2013-15573) from the Ministry of Economy of the Spanish Government. We thank the suggestions and comments of Douglass F. Jacobs and two anonymous reviewers.


  1. Andivia E, Fernández M, Vázquez-Piqué J (2014) Assessing the effect of late-season fertilization on Holm oak plant quality: insights from morpho-nutritional characterizations and water relations parameters. New For 45:149–163. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Archibold OW, Acton C, Ripley EA (2000) Effect of site preparation on soil properties and vegetation cover, and the growth and survival of white spruce (Picea glauca) seedlings, in Saskatchewan. For Ecol Manag 131:127–141. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Casselman CN, Fox TR, Burger JA et al (2006) Effects of silvicultural treatments on survival and growth of trees planted on reclaimed mine lands in the Appalachians. For Ecol Manag 223:403–414CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Côté IM, Curtis PS, Rothstein HR, Stewart GB (2013) Gathering data: searching literature and selection criteria. In: Koricheva J, Gurevitch J, Mengersen K (eds) Handbook of meta-analysis in ecology and evolution, Princeton, pp 37–51Google Scholar
  5. Dominguez-Lerena S, Herrero Sierra N, Carrasco Manzano I et al (2006) Container characteristics influence Pinus pinea seedling development in the nursery and field. For Ecol Manag 221:63–71. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dumroese RK, Page-Dumroese DS, Salifu KF, Jacobs DF (2005) Exponential fertilization of Pinus monticola seedlings: nutrient uptake efficiency, leaching fractions, and early outplanting performance. Can J For Res 35:2961–2967. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dumroese RK, Luna T, Landis TD (2008) Nursery manual for native plants: a guide for tribal nurseries. Agriculture Handbook 730, US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  8. Dumroese RK, Page-Dumroese DS, Brown RE (2011) Allometry, nitrogen status, and carbon stable isotope composition of Pinus ponderosa seedlings in two growing media with contrasting nursery irrigation regimes. Can J For Res 41:1091–1101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dumroese RK, Montville ME, Pinto JR (2015) Using container weights to determine irrigation needs: a simple method. Native Plants J 16:67–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dumroese KR, Landis TD, Pinto JR et al (2016) Meeting forest restoration challenges: using the target plant concept. Reforesta 1:37–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Duryea ML (1984) Nursery cultural practices: impacts on seedling quality. In: Duryea ML, Landis TD, Perry CR (eds) Forestry nursery manual: production of bareroot seedlings. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 143–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Duryea ML (ed) (1985) Evaluating seedling quality: principles, procedures, and predictive abilities of major tests. Forest Research Laboratory, Oregon State University, CorvallisGoogle Scholar
  13. Gerstner K, Moreno-Mateos D, Gurevitch J et al (2017) Will your paper be used in a meta-analysis? Make the reach of your research broader and longer lasting. Methods Ecol Evol 8:777–784. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gómez-Aparicio L (2009) The role of plant interactions in the restoration of degraded ecosystems: ameta-analysis across life-forms and ecosystems. J Ecol 97:1202–1214. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Goodman SN, Fanelli D, Ioannidis JPA (2016) What does research reproducibility mean? Sci Transl Med 8:341ps12. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grossnickle SC (2012) Why seedlings survive: influence of plant attributes. New For 43:711–738. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Grossnickle SC (2017) Why seedlings grow: influence of plant attributes. New For. Google Scholar
  18. Grossnickle SC, El-Kassaby YA (2015) Bareroot versus container stocktypes: a performance comparison. New For. Google Scholar
  19. Hahn P (1984) Plug + 1 seedling production. In: Duryea ML, Landis TD, Perry CR (eds) Forest nursery manual: production of bareroot seedlings. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 165–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hainds MJ (2004) Determining the correct planting depth for container-grown longleaf pine seedlings. Gen Tech Rep SRS‒71, US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, South Res Sta, Asheville NC, pp 317–318Google Scholar
  21. Hillebrand H, Gurevitch J (2013) Reporting standards in experimental studies. Ecol Lett 16:1419–1420. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kabrick JM, Knapp BO, Dey DC, Larsen DR (2015) Effect of initial seedling size, understory competition, and overstory density on the survival and growth of Pinus echinata seedlings underplanted in hardwood forests for restoration. New For. Google Scholar
  23. Koricheva J, Gurevitch J (2014) Uses and misuses of meta-analysis in plant ecology. J Ecol 102:828–844. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Koricheva J, Gurevitch J, Mengersen K (eds) (2013) Handbook of meta-analysis in ecology and evolution. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  25. Lajeunesse MJ (2013) Recovering missing or partial data from studies: a survey of conversions and imputations for meta-analysis. In: Koricheva J, Gurevitch J, Mengersen K (eds) Handbook of meta-analysis in ecology and evolution, Princeton, pp 195–206Google Scholar
  26. Landis TD (1989) Mineral nutrients and fertilization. In: Landis TD, Tinus RW, McDonald SE, Barnett JP (eds) The container tree nursery manual, vol 4, seedling nutrition and irrigation. US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, pp 1–67Google Scholar
  27. Löf M, Dey DC, Navarro RM, Jacobs DF (2012) Mechanical site preparation for forest restoration. New For 43:825–848. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McCreary DD, Tecklin J (2001) The effects of different sizes of tree shelters on blue oak (Quercus douglasii) growth. West J Appl For 16:153–158Google Scholar
  29. Minnemeyer S, Laestadius L, Sizer N et al (2011) A world of opportunity. World Resource Institute, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  30. Mollá S, Villar-Salvador P, García-Fayos P, Peñuelas Rubira JL (2006) Physiological and transplanting performance of Quercus ilex L. (holm oak) seedlings grown in nurseries with different winter conditions. For Ecol Manage 237:218–226. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nakagawa S, Cuthill IC (2007) Effect size, confidence interval and statistical significance: a practical guide for biologists. Biol Rev 82:591–605. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nakagawa S, Santos ESA (2012) Methodological issues and advances in biological meta-analysis. Evol Ecol 26:1253–1274. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nakagawa S, Noble DWA, Senior AM, Lagisz M (2017) Meta-evaluation of meta-analysis: ten appraisal questions for biologists. BMC Biol 15:18. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Oliet JA, Jacobs DF (2012) Restoring forests: advances in techniques and theory. New For 43:535–541CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Oliet JA, Artero F, Cuadros S et al (2012) Deep planting with shelters improves performance of different stocktype sizes under arid Mediterranean conditions. New For 43:925–939. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Palacios G, Navarro Cerrillo RM, del Campo A, Toral M (2009) Site preparation, stock quality and planting date effect on early establishment of Holm oak (Quercus ilex L.) seedlings. Ecol Eng 35:38–46. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Parker TH, Forstmeier W, Koricheva J et al (2016) Transparency in ecology and evolution: real problems, real solutions. Trends Ecol Evol 31:711–719. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pigott TD (1994) Methods for handling missing data in research synthesis. The handbook of research synthesis. Russell Sage Foundation, New York, pp 163–175Google Scholar
  39. Piñeiro J, Maestre FT, Bartolomé L, Valdecantos A (2013) Ecotechnology as a tool for restoring degraded drylands: ameta-analysis of field experiments. Ecol Eng 61:133–144. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pinto JR, Dumroese RK, Davis AS, Landis TD (2011) Conducting seedling stocktype trials: a new approach to an old question. J For 109:293–299Google Scholar
  41. Puértolas J, Benito LF, Peñuelas JL (2009) Effects of nursery shading on seedling quality and post-planting performance in two Mediterranean species with contrasting shade tolerance. New For 38:295–308. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Querejeta JI, Roldán A, Albaladejo J, Castillo V (2001) Soil water availability improved by site preparation in a Pinus halepensis afforestation under semiarid climate. For Ecol Manag 149:115–128. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Radoglou K, Raftoyannis Y (2002) The impact of storage, desiccation and planting date on seedling quality and survival of woody plant species. Forestry 75:179–190. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rey-Benayas JM (1998) Growth and survival in Quercus ilex L. seedlings after irrigation and artificial shading on Mediterranean set-aside agricultural land. Ann For Sci 55:801–807CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ritchie GA (1984) Assessing seedling quality. In: Duryea ML, Landis TD, Perry CR (eds) Forestry nursery manual: production of bareroot seedlings. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 243–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Ritchie GA, Dunlap JR (1980) Root growth potential: its development and expression in forest tree seedlings. NZJ For Sci 10:218–248Google Scholar
  47. Rosenberg MS, Rothstein HR, Gurevitch J (2013) Effect sizes: conventional choices and calculations. In: Koricheva J, Gurevitch J, Mengersen K (eds) Handbook of meta-analysis in ecology and evolution, Princeton, pp 61–71Google Scholar
  48. South DB, Rose RW, Mcnabb KL (2001) Nursery and site preparation interaction research in the United States. New For 22:43–58. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Squeo FA, Holmgren M, Jiménez M et al (2007) Tree establishment along an ENSO experimental gradient in the Atacama desert. J Veg Sci 18:195–202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Stanturf JA, Palik BJ, Dumroese RK (2014) Contemporary forest restoration: a review emphasizing function. For Ecol Manag 331:292–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Stewart G (2010) Meta-analysis in applied ecology. Biol Lett 6:78. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Thompson B (1984) Establishing a vigorous nursery crop: bed preparation, seed sowing, and early seedling growth. In: Duryea ML, Landis TD, Perry CR (eds) Forest nursery manual: production of bareroot seedlings. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 41–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Trubat R, Cortina J, Vilagrosa A (2008) Short-term nitrogen deprivation increases field performance in nursery seedlings of Mediterranean woody species. J Arid Environ 72:879–890. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. van den Driessche R (1982) Relationship between spacing and nitrogen fertilization of seedlings in the nursery seedling size and out planting performance. Can J For Res 12:865–875CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Vázquez de Castro A, Oliet JA, Puértolas J, Jacobs DF (2014) Light transmissivity of tube shelters affects root growth and biomass allocation of Quercus ilex L. and Pinus halepensis Mill. Ann For Sci 71:91–99. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Villar-Salvador P, Planelles R, Oliet J et al (2004) Drought tolerance and transplanting performance of holm oak (Quercus ilex) seedlings after drought hardening in the nursery. Tree Physiol 24:1147–1155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Villar-Salvador P, Puértolas J, Cuesta B et al (2012) Increase in size and nitrogen concentration enhances seedling survival in Mediterranean plantations. Insights from an ecophysiological conceptual model of plant survival. New For 43:755–770. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wakeley PC (1954) Planting the southern pines. Agricultural Monograph 18, US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  59. Wilson BC, Jacobs DF (2006) Quality assessment of temperate zone deciduous hardwood seedlings. New For 31:417–433. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Yang X, Bauhus J, Both S et al (2013) Establishment success in a forest biodiversity and ecosystem functioning experiment in subtropical China (BEF-China). Eur J For Res 132:593–606CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Zhao D, Kane M, Borders BE (2011) Growth responses to planting density and management intensity in loblolly pine plantations in the southeastern USA Lower Coastal Plain. Ann For Sci 68:625–635CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Zuur AF, Ieno EN (2016) A protocol for conducting and presenting results of regression-type analyses. Methods Ecol Evol 7:636–645. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Forest Ecology and Restoration Group, Departamento de Ciencias de la VidaUniversidad de AlcaláAlcala de HenaresSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Sistemas y Recursos Naturales, E.T.S. Ingenieros de Montes, Forestal y del Medio NaturalUniversidad Politécnica de MadridMadridSpain
  3. 3.The Lancaster Environment CentreLancaster UniversityLancasterUK
  4. 4.Rocky Mountain Research StationUS Department of Agriculture Forest ServiceMoscowUSA

Personalised recommendations