hurricane disturbance

Growth Rings, Phenology, Hurricane Disturbance and Climate in Cyrilla racemiflora L., a Rain Forest Tree of the Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico

Growth Rings, Phenology, Hurricane Disturbance and Climate in Cyrilla racemiflora L., a Rain Forest Tree of the Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico
Allan P. Drew
Biotropica
Vol. 30, No. 1 (Mar., 1998), pp. 35-49

Abstract: 
The growth phenology of Cyrilla racemiflora L., the dominant tree species of the montane rain forest, (subtropical lower montane rain forest, sensu Holdridge) of the Luquillo Mountains of Puerto Rico was studied intensively during 1989, and then semiannually through mid-1993 to determine the periodicity of changes in xylem structure. Four trees at 770 m were monitored for flowering, branch elongation, leaf litterfall, and xylem cell growth and differentiation in the lower stem, and these events were related to local seasonal patterns of rainfall and temperature. Hurricane Hugo defoliated study trees in September, 1989. Bud-break and branch elongation in March, 1989 were followed by earlywood xylem cell production in the lower stem in April and the onset of flowering in May. Leaf litterfall was greatest between April and June, coinciding with peak branch growth and new leaf formation. Latewood xylem was produced in December. The general phenological pattern was synchronized between trees and over study years. Vessel diameter and density were monitored along with thickness of earlywood and latewood and the former converted to vessel lumen area, a measure of xylem conductance capacity. Annual growth rings were formed with periods of earlywood and latewood production coinciding with traditional summer (rainy) and winter (dry) seasons, respectively, in the Luquillo Mountains. Hurricane defoliation was followed by heavy flowering in 1990, a year of reduced branch elongation and annual xylem ring width, and was associated with maximum vessel lumen area, as was flowering in 1989, prior to the hurricane. Hurricane Hugo provided a perturbation that, through its elicited stress response, allowed for the demonstration of the interplay between flowering, branching, structural growth of xylem, and xylem function.

Low Atlantic hurricane activity in the 1970s and 1980s compared to the past 270 years

Nyberg, J., B. A. Malmgren, A. Winter, M. R.
Jury, K. H. Kilbourne, and T. M. Quinn
(2007), Low Atlantic hurricane activity in the
1970s and 1980s compared to the past 270
years, Nature, 447, 698–701.

Abstract: 
Hurricane activity in the North Atlantic Ocean has increased significantly since 1995 (refs 1, 2). This trend has been attributed to both anthropogenically induced climate change3 and natural variability1, but the primary cause remains uncertain. Changes in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes in the past can provide insights into the factors that influence hurricane activity, but reliable observations of hurricane activity in the North Atlantic only cover the past few decades2. Here we construct a record of the frequency of major Atlantic hurricanes over the past 270 years using proxy records of vertical wind shear and sea surface temperature (the main controls on the formation of major hurricanes in this region1,3–5) from corals and a marine sediment core. The record indicates that the average frequency of major hurricanes decreased gradually from the 1760s until the early 1990s, reaching anomalously low values during the 1970s and 1980s. Furthermore, the phase of enhanced hurricane activity since 1995 is not unusual compared to other periods of high hurricane activity in the record and thus appears to represent a recovery to normal hurricane activity, rather than a direct response to increasing sea surface temperature. Comparison of the record with a reconstruction of vertical wind shear indicates that variability in this parameter primarily controlled the frequency of major hurricanes in the Atlantic over the past 270 years, suggesting that changes in the magnitude of vertical wind shear will have a significant influence on future hurricane activity.

Effects of Hurricane Disturbance on Groundwater Chemistry and Riparian Function in a Tropical Rain Forest

Effects of Hurricane Disturbance on Groundwater Chemistry and Riparian Function in a Tropical Rain Forest
William H. McDowell, Claire P. McSwiney and William B. Bowden
Biotropica
Vol. 28, No. 4, Part A. Special Issue: Long Term Responses of Caribbean Ecosystems to Disturbances (Dec., 1996), pp. 577-584

Abstract: 
The long-term response of shallow groundwater chemistry to the canopy disturbance and defoliation associated with Hurricane Hugo was studied at two sites in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico. The sites differed in bedrock type, dominant vegetation, and availability of pre-hurricane data. At the primary study site, the Bisley catchment, hurricane disturbance resulted in increased concentrations of NO3 -, NH4 +, dissolved organic N, base cations, Cl-, and SiO2 in groundwater within 5 mo of the hurricane. The largest relative change in concentration occurred for K+, which increased from 0.7 to as high as 13 mg/L, concentrations were still 1.3 mg/L 5.5 yr after the hurricane. Most other solutes had returned to background levels within 1-2 yr of the hurricane. At the secondary study site, the Icacos catchment, NO3 - concentrations peaked at 1.1 mg/L one yr after the hurricane and decreased to nearly zero 5.5 yr after the hurricane. At both sites, NO3 - concentrations were higher in upslope wells than in those closer to the stream. Overall, riparian processes appear to reduce but not eliminate hydrologic losses of N following catastrophic disturbance. The nature of the long-term biogeochemical response to disturbance in this tropical rain forest ecosystem is similar to that observed in some montane temperate forests, and the time course of recovery appears to be associated with the speed with which vegetation regrows following disturbance.
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