Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Estimating soil turnover rate from tree uprooting during hurricanes in Puerto Rico

Lenart, M.T., Falk, D.A. Scatena , F.N., Osterkamp, W.R.
2 010
Forest Ecol. and Management
Soil turnover by tree uprooting in primary and secondary forests on the island of Puerto Rico was measured in 42 study plots in the months immediately after the passage of a Category 3 hurricane. Trunk basal area explained 61% of the variability of mound volume and 53% of the variability of mound area. The proportion of uprooted trees, the number of uprooted trees, or the proportion of uprooted basal area explained 84–85% of the variation in hurricane-created mound area. These same variables explain 79–85% of the variation in mound volume. The study indicates that the soil turnover period from tree uprooting by Puerto Rican hurricanes is between 1600 and 4800 years. These rates are faster than soil turnover by landslides and background treefall in the same area and provide a useful age constraint on soil profile development and soil carbon sequestration in these dynamic landscapes.

Department of Earth and Environmental Science / University of Pennsylvania, 251 Hayden Hall, 240 South 33rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6316