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J. Leighton Reid

Assistant Professor
J. Leighton Reid
420 Smyth Hall
185 Ag Quad Lane
Blacksburg, VA 24061


As a restoration ecologist, I am committed to improving outcomes for society and nature in ecosystems that are recovering from disturbance. While ecological restoration is not a substitute for halting greenhouse gas emissions or preserving intact habitat, it is a complementary strategy that can help address the interrelated global challenges of climate change, mass extinction, and the erosion of natural capital. My lab group is most interested in questions about how and where ecological restoration can best address these challenges at regional, national, and global scales. I lead an undergraduate major in Ecological Restoration, coordinate an interdisciplinary Restoration Ecology Working Group, and advise the Society for Ecological Restoration Student Association at Virginia Tech (SER-VT).


  • Restoration ecology
  • Biodiversity monitoring
  • Tropical forest ecology
  • Temperate grassland ecology


  • Ph.D., Environmental Studies, University of California Santa Cruz, 2013
  • M.A., Environmental Studies, University of California Santa Cruz, 2011
  • B.S., Environmental Studies, University of the South, 2006

The main question driving my research is how and where can we best restore biodiversity? Virtually all visions for a sustainable future now include a strong role for ecosystem restoration, and the practice of ecological restoration has been invigorated in recent years by large-scale restoration commitments spanning hundreds of millions of hectares in more than 100 countries. As these ambitions are put into practice, my lab’s role includes identifying the most suitable locations for restoration and matching them to efficient restoration strategies. Currently, my research focuses on tropical forests in Latin America and Madagascar and temperate woodlands and grasslands in the Southeastern United States.

  • ENSC 4244 – Ecological Restoration
  • ENSC 3364 – Plant Materials for Environmental Restoration

Assistant Professor | 2019 – present
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Assistant Scientist | 2016-2019
Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development
Missouri Botanical Garden

Postdoctoral Researcher | 2014-2016
Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development
Missouri Botanical Garden

Postdoctoral Researcher | 2013-2014
Forest Ecosystems and Society
Oregon State University

  • Editor’s Choice Award. Applied Vegetation Science, 2016
  • Atlas Award. Elsevier, 2015
  1. Chaves, RF, JL Reid, C Hohlenwerger, A Calaboni, M Mendes, MSP Baptista, DP Mori, LR Tambosi. Welcome small patches, beware the risks of changing conservation priorities. Conservation Letters. In Press.
  2. San-José, M, LK Werden, F Joyce, JL Reid, KD Holl & RA Zahawi. Effects of landscape structure on restoration success in tropical premontane forest. Scientific Reports. In Press.
  3. Culbertson, KA, T Treuer, A Mondragon-Botero, T Ramiadantsoa, & JL Reid. 2022. The eco-evolutionary history of Madagascar presents unique challenges to tropical forest restoration. Biotropica doi:10.1111/btp.13124.
  4. Logan, CM, DM Hill, JF Solofoniaina Fidy, JC Robertho & JL Reid. 2022. Assaying techniques to improve dry season plantings in eastern Madagascar. Restoration Ecology. doi:10.1111/rec.13715
  5. Londe, V, JL Reid, FT Farah, RR Rodrigues & FR Martins. 2022. Estimating optimal sampling area for monitoring tropical forest restoration. Biological Conservation 269:109532.
  6. Holl, KD, F Joyce, & JL Reid. 2022. Alluring restoration strategies to attract seed-dispersing animals need more rigorous testing. Journal of Applied Ecology 59:649-652.
  7. Fernandez Barrancos, EP, RJ Marquis & JL Reid. 2022. Restoration plantations accelerate dead wood accumulation in tropical premontane forests. Forest Ecology and Management 508:120015.
  8. Albrecht, MA, ND Dell, JL Reid, M Saxton, J Trager, C Waldman & QG Long. 2022. Recovery of herb-layer vegetation and soil properties after pile burning in a Midwestern oak woodland. Restoration Ecology e13547.
  9. Reid, JL, U Korrman, D Zarrate-Chary, KD Holl, & RA Zahawi. 2021. Multi-scale habitat selection of key frugivores predicts large-seeded tree recruitment in tropical forest restoration. Ecosphere. 12:e03868.
  10. Nerfa, L, SJ Wilson, JL Reid, & JM Rhemtulla. 2021. Practitioner views on the determinants of tropical forest restoration longevity. Restoration Ecology 29:e13345.
  11. Zahawi, RA, JL Reid, & ME Fagan. 2020. Potential impacts of COVID-19 on tropical forest recovery. Biotropica 52:803-807. Top 10 most-downloaded article of the year in Biotropica.
  12. Holl, KD, JL Reid, RJ Cole, F Oviedo-Brenes, JA Rosales, RA Zahawi. 2020. Applied nucleation facilitates tropical forest recovery: Lessons from a 15-year study. Journal of Applied Ecology 57: 2316-2328.
  13. Fagan, ME, JL Reid, MB Holland, JG Drew, & RA Zahawi. 2020. How feasible are global forest restoration commitments? Conservation Letters 13:e12700. Top-cited article for the year in Conservation Letters.
  14. Reid, JL, NJ Holmberg, MA Albrecht, S Arango-Caro, O Hajek*, Q Long, & J Trager. 2020. Annual floristic dynamics in a temperate woodland mosaic during a decade of ecological restoration. Natural Areas Journal 40:23-34.
  15. Fagan, ME, JL Reid & RA Zahawi. 2019. Forests: Questioning carbon stores after restoration. Nature 570:446.
  16. Brancalion, PHS, A Niamir, E Broadbent, R Crouzeilles, FSM Barros, AM Almedya Zambrano, A Baccini, J Aronson, S Goetz, JL Reid, BBN Strassburg, S Wilson & R Chazdon. 2019. Global restoration opportunities in tropical rainforest landscapes. Science Advances 5: eaav3223.
  17. Fernandez-Barrancos, EP, JL Reid & JS Hall. 2020. Lack of Araceae in young forests highlights the importance of mature forest conservation. Tropical Conservation Science 12:1-5.
  18. Miandrimanana, C, JL Reid, T Rivoharison & C Birkinshaw. 2019. Planting position and shade enhance native seedling performance in forest restoration for an endangered Malagasy plant. Plant Diversity 41:118-123.
  19. Evans, JP, CA Oldfield, & JL Reid. 2019. Differential resistance to tree species loss between two dominant communities in a resilient southeastern landscape. Natural Areas Journal. 39:182-188.
  20. Reid, JL, ME Fagan, J Lucas, J Slaughter & RA Zahawi. 2019. The ephemerality of regenerating forests in southern Costa Rica. Conservation Letters 12:e12607.
  21. Reid, JL. 2018. Restoration Ecology’s Silver Jubilee: Big time questions for restoration ecology. Restoration Ecology 26:1029-1031.
  22. Holl, KD, JL Reid, F Oviedo-Brenes, A Kulikowski & RA Zahawi. 2018. Rules of thumb for predicting tropical forest recovery. Applied Vegetation Science 21:669-677.
  23. Zahawi, RA & JL Reid. 2018. Tropical secondary forest enrichment with giant stakes of keystone fig species. Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation 16:133-138.
  24. Brancalion, PHS, C Bello, RL Chazdon, M Galetti, P Jordano, RAF Lima, A Medina, MA Pizo & JL Reid. 2018. Maximizing biodiversity conservation and carbon stocking in restored tropical forests. Conservation Letters 11:e12454.
  25. Reid, JL, ME Fagan & RA Zahawi. 2018. Positive site selection bias in meta-analyses comparing natural regeneration to active forest restoration. Science Advances 4:eaas9143.
  26. Reid, JL & J Aronson. 2017. Ecological restoration in a changing biosphere. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 102: 185-187.
  27. Reid, JL, S Wilson, G Bloomfield, M Cattau, ME Fagan, KD Holl & RA Zahawi. 2017. How long do restored ecosystems persist? Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 102: 258-265.
  28. Holl, KD, JL Reid, JM Chaves-Fallas, F Oviedo-Brenes & RA Zahawi. 2017. Local forest restoration strategies affect biodiversity recovery more strongly than does landscape forest cover. Journal of Applied Ecology 54: 1091-1099.
  29. Hudson, LN et al. 2017. The database of the PREDICTS (Projecting Responses of Ecological Diversity in Changing Terrestrial Systems) Project. Ecology and Evolution 7.1 145-188.
  30. Fernandez-Barrancos, EP, JL Reid & J Aronson. 2017. Tank bromeliad transplants as an enrichment strategy in southern Costa Rica. Restoration Ecology 25: 569-576.
  31. Reid JL, JM Chaves-Fallas, KD Holl & RA Zahawi. 2016. Tropical forest restoration enriches vascular epiphyte recovery. Applied Vegetation Science 19:508-517.
  32. McAlpine, C, C Catterall, R Mac Nally, D Lindenmayer, JL Reid, KD Holl, AF Bennett, RK Runting, K Wilson, RJ Hobbs, L Seabrook, S Cunningham, A Moilanen, M Maron, L Shoo, I Lunt, P Vesk, L Rumpff, TG Martin, J Thomson, & H Possingham. 2016. Integrating plant- and animal-based perspectives for more effective restoration of biodiversity. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 14:37-45.
  33. Reid, JL. 2016. Knowledge and experience predict indiscriminate bat killing intentions among Costa Rican men. Biotropica 48:394-404.
  34. Reid, JL. 2015. Indicators of success should be sensitive to compositional failures: reply to Suganuma and Durigan. Restoration Ecology 23:519-520.
  35. Reid, JL, CD Mendenhall, RA Zahawi, & KD Holl. 2015. Scale-dependent effects of forest restoration on Neotropical fruit bats. Restoration Ecology 23:681-689.
  36. Zahawi, RA, JL Reid & KD Holl. 2015. Passive restoration can be an effective strategy: a reply to Prach and del Moral. Restoration Ecology 23:347-348.
  37. Zahawi, RA, JP Dandois, KD Holl, D Nadwodny, JL Reid & EC Ellis. 2015. Using lightweight unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor tropical forest recovery. Biological Conservation 186:287-295.
  38. Reid, JL, KD Holl & RA Zahawi. 2015. Seed dispersal limitations shift over time in tropical forest restoration. Ecological Applications 25:1072-1082.
  39. Hudson, LN et al. 2014. The PREDICTS database: a global database of how local terrestrial biodiversity responds to human impacts. Ecology and Evolution 4:4701-4735.
  40. Zahawi, RA, JL Reid & KD Holl. 2014. Hidden costs of passive restoration. Restoration Ecology 22:284-287.
  41. Reid, JL, CD Mendenhall, JA Rosales, RA Zahawi & KD Holl. 2014. Landscape context mediates avian habitat choice in tropical forest restoration. PLoS One 9:e90573.
  42. Reid, JL, EK Holste, KD Holl, & RA Zahawi. 2014. Does any bat box facilitate forest recovery? - Reply to Kelm. Biological Conservation 170:330-331.
  43. Holl, KD, VM Stout, JL Reid & RA Zahawi. 2013. Testing heterogeneity-diversity relationships in tropical forest restoration. Oecologia 173:569-578.
  44. Reid, JL, EK Holste & RA Zahawi. 2013. Artificial bat roosts did not accelerate forest regeneration in abandoned pastures in southern Costa Rica. Biological Conservation 167:9-16.
  45. Lindell, CA, JL Reid & RJ Cole. 2013. Planting design effects on avian seed dispersers in a tropical forest restoration experiment. Restoration Ecology 21:515-522.
  46. Zahawi, RA, KD Holl, RJ Cole & JL Reid. 2013. Testing applied nucleation as a strategy to facilitate tropical forest recovery. Journal of Applied Ecology 50:88-96.
  47. Reid, JL & KD Holl. 2013. Arrival ≠ survival. Restoration Ecology 21:153-155.
  48. Reid, JL, KN Katsuki* & KD Holl. 2012. Do birds bias measurements of seed rain? Journal of Tropical Ecology. 28:421-422.
  49. Reid, JL, JBC Harris & RA Zahawi. 2012. Avian habitat preference in tropical forest restoration in southern Costa Rica. Biotropica 44:350-359.
  50. Harris, JBC, JL Reid, BR Scheffers, TC Wanger, NS Sodhi, DA Fordham & BW Brook. 2012. Conserving imperiled species: a comparison of the IUCN Red List and US Endangered Species Act. Conservation Letters 5:64-72.
  51. Harris, JBC, JL Reid & Z Wonggor. 2011. Papua (Irian Jaya). Kukila 15:132-133.
  52. Reid, JL & A Sánchez-Gutiérrez. 2010. Observaciones de dos presas nuevas de vertebrados para el momoto común (Momotus momota). Zeledonia 14:68-72.
  53. Reid, JL, JBC Harris, LJ Martin, JR Barnett & RA Zahawi. 2008. Distribution and abundance of nearctic-neotropical songbird migrants in a forest restoration site in southern Costa Rica. Journal of Tropical Ecology 24:685-688.
  54. Reid, JL, JP Evans, JK Hiers & JBC Harris. 2008. Ten years of forest change in two adjacent communities on the southern Cumberland Plateau, U.S.A. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 135:224-235.
  55. Greene, MP, E Wilichowski, AW Whelan & JL Reid. 2007. Hemidactylus turcicus (Mediterranean House Gecko). Herpetological Review 38:483.