Birds and seeds

Can bird perches promote seed dispersal and accelerate natural forest regeneration?

Jelaine L. Gan

At the rate forests are destroyed, we need more solutions aside from tree planting. Forests are important habitat for many species and performs irreplaceable ecosystem functions, such as water regulation and nutrient cycling. To restore forests, the most common way is to actively plant trees, which requires a lot of effort and money.

“Nature can still heal itself”, but what if we can speed it up? When left alone, an old farmland will have trees growing and it may become a forest again eventually. Based on this principle, Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) is a reforestation strategy involving the reduction of disturbances and promoting seed input at the degraded land. Perches can be used to attract fruit-eating birds that can help spread tree seeds and speed up the natural regeneration of the forest.

Picture above, right: A Philippine green pigeon (Treron axillaris) is seen eating a fig, the seeds of which will be dispersed the next time the bird defecates. (Photo credit: Jelaine Lim Gan)

We aim to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of previous studies and observations to assess whether artificial and natural perches can increase seed dispersal and/or seedling growth on degraded areas. The results will synthesize available evidence on the topic, identify knowledge gaps we need filling to upscale the strategy, and inform their use in concert with other ANR strategies. The results of the meta study are expected to be available in 2024.

We are looking for studies that compare the abundance and/or richness of seed rain and seedling growth between areas with perch and areas without perch. The site must be adjacent to a forest and birds are the main dispersers of interest. If you have a study that fits this criteria, please get in touch and send them to Thank you!

Read the protocol here:

Gan, J. L., Grainger, M. J., Shirley, M. D. F., & Pfeifer, M. (03 August 2023). How effective are perches in promoting bird-mediated seed dispersal for natural forest regeneration? A systematic review protocol. Environmental Evidence, 12(1), 15.