Lugo A.E.

Background and Catastrophic Tree Mortality in Tropical Moist, Wet, and Rain Forests

Background and Catastrophic Tree Mortality in Tropical Moist, Wet, and Rain Forests
Ariel E. Lugo and F. N. Scatena
Biotropica
Vol. 28, No. 4, Part A. Special Issue: Long Term Responses of Caribbean Ecosystems to Disturbances (Dec., 1996), pp. 585-599

Abstract: 
The process of tree mortality has dimensions of intensity, spatial, and temporal scales that reflect the characteristics of endogenic processes (i.e., senescence) and exogenic disturbances (i.e., severity, frequency, duration, spatial scale, and points of interaction with the ecosystem). Tree mortality events expressed as percent of stems or biomass per unit area, range in intensity from background (<5% yr-1) to catastrophic (>5% yr-1), in spatial scale from local to massive, and in temporal scale from gradual to sudden (hours to weeks). Absolute annual rates of background tree mortality (biomass or stem ha-1 yr-1) can vary several fold depending on stand conditions and tend to increase with stem density. The ecological effects of a catastrophic, massive, and sudden tree mortality event contrast with those of background, local, and gradual tree mortality in terms of the direction of succession after the event, community dynamics, nutrient cycling, and possibly selection on trees. When standardized for the return frequency of disturbance events, area, and topography, the ranking of tree mortality events (trees ha-1 century-1) in the Luquillo Experimental Forest is: background > hurricanes > individual tree fall gaps > landslides. Estimates of vegetation turnover rates require long-term and spatial analysis to yield accurate results.

Disturbance and long-term patterns of rainfall and throughfall nutrient fluxes in a subtropical wet forest in Puerto Rico

Heartsill-Scalley, T.; Scatena,F.N.; Estrada,C.; McDowell,W.H.;Lugo,A.E. 2007. Disturbance and long-term patterns of rainfall and throughfall nutrient fluxes in a subtropical wet forest in Puerto Rico. Journal of Hydrology 333, :472- 485.

Abstract: 
Nutrient fluxes in rainfall and throughfall were measured weekly in a mature subtropical wet forest in NE Puerto Rico over a 15-year period that included the effects of 10 named tropical storms, several prolonged dry periods, and volcanic activity in the region. Mean annual rainfall and throughfall were 3482 and 2131 mm yr1, respectively. Average annual rainfall and throughfall fluxes of K, Ca, Mg, Cl, Na, and SO4–S were similar but somewhat larger than those reported for most tropical forests. Rainfall inputs of nitrogen were comparatively low and reflect the relative isolation of the airshed. More constituents had seasonal differences in rainfall fluxes (6 out of 12) than throughfall fluxes (4 out of 12) and all volume weighted throughfall enrichment ratios calculated for the 15-year period were greater than one. However, median weekly enrichment ratios were less than 1 for sea salts and dissolved organic carbon, between 1 and 2 for Mg, Ca, SiO2 and SO4–S, and greater than 10 for NH4–N, PO4–P, and K. Droughts tended to reduce enrichment ratios of cations and sea-salts, but increased enrichment ratios of NH4–N, PO4–P, and K. In the weeks following hurricanes and tropical storms, relative throughfall tended to be higher and enrichment ratios tended to be lower. Saharan dust and the activity of Caribbean volcanoes can also be detected in the time series. Nevertheless, the impacts of particular events are variable and modified by the magnitude of the event, the preand post-event rainfall, and the time since the previous event. Rainfall, throughfall, rainfall pH, and rainfall fluxes of seven constituents had decreasing trends over the 15-year period. However, these decreases were small, less than inter-annual and annual varia-tions, and not considered to be ecologically significant. These long-term observations indicate that physical and biological processes associated with water passing through the canopy act to buffer internal nutrient cycles from inter-annual and seasonal variations in rainfall inputs.

Changes in Structure, Composition, and Nutrients During 15 Yr of Hurricane-Induced Succession in a Subtropical Wet Forest in Puerto Rico

Heartsill Scalley, Tamara; Scatena, Frederick N.; Lugo, Ariel E.; Moya, Samuel; Estrada Ruiz, Carlos R. 2010. Changes in structure, composition, and nutrients during 15 years of hurricane-induced succession in a subtropical wet forest in Puerto Rico. Biotropica. 42(4): 455-463.

Abstract: 
The trajectory of hurricane-induced succession was evaluated in a network of forest plots measured immediately before and 3 mo, 5, 10, and 15 yr after the direct impact of a Category 4 hurricane. Comparisons of forest structure, composition, and aboveground nutrients pools were made through time, and between species, lifehistory groups and geomorphic settings. The hurricane reduced aboveground biomass by 50 percent, causing an immediate decrease in stem density and diversity indices among all geomorphic settings. After 15 yr, basal area and aboveground biomass returned to pre-hurricane levels, while species richness, diversity indices, and stem densities exceeded pre-hurricane levels. Differences in species composition among geomorphic settings had not returned after 15 yr but differences in stem densities and structure were beginning to emerge. Significant differences were observed in the nutrient concentration of the three species that comprised the most aboveground biomass, and between species categorized as secondary high-light species and primary, low-light species. Species whose abundance was negatively correlated with the mature forest dominant also had distinct nutrient concentrations. When total aboveground nutrient pools were compared over time, differences in leaf nutrients among species were hidden by similarities in wood nutrient concentrations and the biomass dominance of a few species. The observed successional trajectory indicates that changes in species composition contributed to fast recovery of aboveground biomass and nutrient pools, while the influence of geomorphic setting on species composition occurs at time scales 415 yr of succession.

Ecological Consequences of Root Grafting in Tabonuco (Dacryodes excelsa) Trees in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico

Ecological Consequences of Root Grafting in Tabonuco (Dacryodes excelsa) Trees in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico
Khadga Basnet, F. N. Scatena, Gene E. Likens and Ariel E. Lugo
Biotropica
Vol. 25, No. 1 (Mar., 1993), pp. 28-35

Abstract: 
Root grafting was commonly found in tabonuco (Dacryodes excelsa Vahl), a dominant tree species of tabonuco forest in the subtropical wet forest of Puerto Rico. Over 60 percent of all stems and basal area of tabonuco occurred in unions, clumps of trees interconnected by root grafts. Self and intraspecific grafting were extensive, while interspecific grafting was not common in tabonuco trees. Seedlings and saplings did not show any grafting, probably because of their size or age. Grafted trees were taller and had a smaller crown/DBH ratio. Hurricane damage was significantly higher in isolated individual tabonuco trees than those in unions. Weak relationships between diameter class, area, and size of union, and inter-tree distances and the sum of the trunk circumferences of the two nearest neighbors suggested that a noncompetitive force such as root grafting was more important than competitive forces in maintaining the unions of tabonuco, and thus the forest community. A conceptual model of the costs and gains of tabonuco in unions is presented.

Hurricane Hugo: damage to a tropical rain forest in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Hugo: Damage to a Tropical Rain Forest in Puerto Rico
Khadga Basnet, Gene E. Likens, F. N. Scatena and Ariel E. Lugo
Journal of Tropical Ecology
Vol. 8, No. 1 (Feb., 1992), pp. 47-55

Abstract: 
Hurricane Hugo of September 1989 caused severe damage to the rain forest in the north-rust corner of Puerto Rico. We assessed the severity of damage distributed in space, species, and size-classes of trees in the Bisley Watersheds of the Luquillo Experimental Forest. We analyzed pie- and post-hurricane data for vegetation from transects established in 1987 and 1988. The severity of damage was significantly greater in valleys than on ridges and slopes. All the species except Dacryodes excelsa, Sloanea berteriana, and Guarea guidonia showed 100% severe damage. Large trees (> 70 cm DBH) were highly susceptible to hurricane damage, but there was no clear pattern in the small size-classes. D. excelsa (tabonuco) was the most resistant to damage by the hurricane. Tabonuco which has extensive root-grafts and root anchorage to bedrock and subsurficial rocks, apparently can survive frequent hurricanes and continue as a dominant species in this montane tropical rain forest. The high frequency of hurricanes, which can override other ecological and topographic factors, may largely determine the overall spatial pattern of species in this rain forest.
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