Professor Montagnini’s research focuses on variables controlling the sustainability of managed ecosystems (e.g., primary and secondary forests, plantations, and agroforestry systems) in the tropics, with special emphasis on Latin America; the identification and quantification of ecological services provided by forests (biodiversity conservation, carbon fixing and storage); reforestation of degraded lands with native species, including mixed-species designs; tropical plantation silviculture; the use of biological enrichment techniques with species of economic value as a forest restoration tool; and the integration of ecological principles with economic, social, and policy factors in the design of sustainable land-use schemes in humid tropical regions.
She is currently conducting projects in regions encompassing three major types of tropical forest: tropical rainforest in Central America, dry forest in the Chaco region of Argentina, and montane forests in the state of Hidalgo, Mexico. Projects that she is currently conducting include examining the role of native tree species in plantations and agroforestry systems in reclaiming degraded areas with species of economic value; the identification and quantification of ecological services provided by forests (biodiversity conservation, carbon sequestration, and water); and tropical plantation silviculture. In her research, she collaborates with institutions such as CATIE (Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center, Costa Rica), as well as with universities in Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Argentina, and Brazil.
Professor Montagnini has written over 80 scientific articles for international journals, and four books on agroforestry systems and tropical forest ecology and management, including a major textbook in tropical forest ecology and management. She teaches courses in tropical forest ecology and management, soil science, agroforestry, and restoration ecology. She is a Fellow of Saybrook College at Yale. She also holds honorary professorships at several universities in Latin America.