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J. Leighton Reid

Assistant Professor
J. Leighton Reid
364 Smyth Hall
Plant and Env Sciences
Blacksburg, VA 24061


My teaching and research aim to advance plant conservation through ecological restoration regionally and globally. Currently I am studying native grassland restoration and reconstruction in Virginia, woodland restoration in Missouri, and tropical forest restoration in Costa Rica and Madagascar. I teach two restoration-focused classes within the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences. My appointment is 70% research and 30% teaching.


  • Ecological restoration; tropical forest 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 conserve biodiversity through ecological restoration? 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 tens of millions of hectares in dozens of countries. As these ambitions are put into practice, my lab plays a role in identifying the most suitable locations for restoration and matching them to efficient restoration strategies. For the past 15 years I have been studying tropical forest restoration in southern Costa Rica – comparing the influence of different tree plantings strategies with the influence of the surrounding landscape to make recommendations about how to efficiently restore tropical forests on degraded agricultural lands. In Virginia, I am working with the Clifton Institute and the Virginia Working Landscapes program at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute to experimentally test strategies for establishing and maintaining native grasslands on former cattle pastures.

  • ENSC 3244 – 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. Reid, JL, NJ Holmberg, MA Albrecht, S Arango-Caro, O Hajek, Q Long, & J Trager. 2019. Annual floristic dynamics in a temperate woodland mosaic during a decade of ecological restoration. Natural Areas Journal. In Press.
  2. Fagan, ME, JL Reid & RA Zahawi. 2019. Forests: Questioning carbon stores after restoration. Nature 570:446.
  3. 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.
  4. Fernandez-Barrancos, EP, JL Reid & JS Hall. 2019. Lack of Araceae in young forests highlights the importance of mature forest conservation. Tropical Conservation Science 12:1-5.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Reid, JL. 2018. Restoration Ecology’s Silver Jubilee: Big time questions for restoration ecology. Restoration Ecology 26:1029-1031.
  8. Reid, JL, ME Fagan, J Lucas, J Slaughter & RA Zahawi. 2018. The ephemerality of regenerating forests in southern Costa Rica. Conservation Letters 12:e12607.
  9. 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.
  10. Zahawi, RA & JL Reid. 2018. Tropical secondary forest enrichment with giant stakes of keystone fig species. Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation 16:133-138.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Reid, JL & J Aronson. 2017. Ecological restoration in a changing biosphere. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 102: 185-187.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Fernandez-Barrancos, EP, JL Reid & J Aronson. 2017. Tank bromeliad transplants as an enrichment strategy in southern Costa Rica. Restoration Ecology 25: 569-576.
  18. Reid JL, JM Chaves-Fallas, KD Holl & RA Zahawi. 2016. Tropical forest restoration enriches vascular epiphyte recovery. Applied Vegetation Science 19:508-517
  19. 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.
  20. Reid, JL. 2016. Knowledge and experience predict indiscriminate bat killing intentions among Costa Rican men. Biotropica 48:394-404.
  21. Reid, JL. 2015. Indicators of success should be sensitive to compositional failures: reply to Suganuma and Durigan. Restoration Ecology 23:519-520.
  22. Reid, JL, CD Mendenhall, RA Zahawi, & KD Holl. 2015. Scale-dependent effects of forest restoration on Neotropical fruit bats. Restoration Ecology 23:681-689.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. Reid, JL, KD Holl & RA Zahawi. 2015. Seed dispersal limitations shift over time in tropical forest restoration. Ecological Applications 25:1072-1082.
  26. 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.
  27. Zahawi, RA, JL Reid & KD Holl. 2014. Hidden costs of passive restoration. Restoration Ecology 22:284-287.
  28. 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.
  29. Reid, JL, EK Holste, KD Holl, & RA Zahawi. 2014. Does any bat box facilitate forest recovery? - Reply to Kelm. Biological Conservation 170:330-331.
  30. Holl, KD, VM Stout*, JL Reid & RA Zahawi. 2013. Testing heterogeneity-diversity relationships in tropical forest restoration. Oecologia 173:569-578.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. Reid, JL & KD Holl. 2013. Arrival ≠ survival. Restoration Ecology 21:153-155.
  35. Reid, JL, KN Katsuki* & KD Holl. 2012. Do birds bias measurements of seed rain? Journal of Tropical Ecology. 28:421-422.
  36. Reid, JL, JBC Harris & RA Zahawi. 2012. Avian habitat preference in tropical forest restoration in southern Costa Rica. Biotropica 44:350-359.
  37. 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.
  38. Harris, JBC, JL Reid & Z Wonggor. 2011. Papua (Irian Jaya). Kukila 15:132-133.
  39. Reid, JL & A Sánchez-Gutiérrez. 2010. Observaciones de dos presas nuevas de vertebrados para el momoto común (Momotus momota). Zeledonia 14:68-72.
  40. 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.
  41. 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.
  42. Greene, MP, E Wilichowski, AW Whelan & JL Reid. 2007. Hemidactylus turcicus (Mediterranean House Gecko). Herpetological Review 38: 483.