hurricanes

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.

STRUCTURAL AND FUNCTIONAL RESPONSES OF A SUBTROPICAL FOREST TO 10 YEARS OF HURRICANES AND DROUGHTS

Beard, Karen H., Kristiina A. Vogt, Daniel J. Vogt, Frederick N. Scatena, Alan P. Covich, Ragnhildur Sigurdardottir, Thomas G. Siccama, and Todd A. Crowl. 2005. STRUCTURAL AND FUNCTIONAL RESPONSES OF A SUBTROPICAL FOREST TO 10 YEARS OF HURRICANES AND DROUGHTS. Ecological Monographs 75:345–361. [doi:10.1890/04-1114]

Abstract: 
Little is known about ecosystem-level responses to multiple, climatic disturbance events. In the subtropical forests of Puerto Rico, the major natural disturbances are hurricanes and droughts. We tested the ecosystem-level effects of these disturbances in sites with different land use histories. From 1989 to 1992, data were collected to determine the effects of Hurricane Hugo and two droughts on litterfall inputs, fine-root biomass, and decomposition rates in three topographic locations (stream, riparian, upslope) within two watersheds. From 1994 to 1998, we added a third watershed and an experiment in which coarse-wood levels were manipulated to simulate hurricane inputs. Data were collected on tree and palm growth rates, litterfall inputs, fine-root biomass, and decomposition rates. From 1994 to 1998, four hurricanes and three droughts were recorded. Measured parameters had unique responses and recovery rates to hurricanes and droughts. Litterfall inputs returned to long-term mean rates within one month following droughts and small-to-moderate hurricanes but required five years to recover after an intense hurricane. In contrast, fine-root biomass recovered seven months after an intense hurricane but failed to recover after five years following a severe drought. Despite the dramatic effects of these weather events on some ecosystem parameters, we found that aboveground measures of tree and palm growth were more affected by preexisting site conditions (e.g., nitrogen availability due to past land use activities) than hurricanes or droughts. The addition of coarse woody debris increased tree and palm growth, fine-root biomass, and litter production; however, in the case of tree and palm growth, this effect was least measurable in the sites with the highest productivity. We found that decomposition rates were more controlled by litter quality than weather conditions. In conclusion, we found that certain ecosystem structures (e.g., canopy structure and fine-root biomass) generally recovered more slowly from disturbance events than certain ecosystem processes (e.g., plant growth rates, decomposition rates). We also found that past land use activities and disturbance legacies were important in determining the responses and recovery rates of the ecosystem to disturbance.

The First five years in the reorganization of aboveground biomass and nutrient use following hurricane Hugo in the bisley Experimental Watersheds, luquillo Experimental Fortest, Puerto Rico

Scatena, F. N. ; Moya, S.; Estrada, C; Chinea, J.D. 1996. The First five years in the reorganization of aboveground biomass and nutrient use following hurricane Hugo in the bisley Experimental Watersheds, luquillo Experimental Fortest, Puerto Rico. Biotropica 28(4) : 424-440.

Abstract: 
Five years after Hurricane Hugo reduced the aboveground biomass by 50 percent in two forested watersheds in the Luquillo Experimental Forest of Puerto Rico, regeneration and growth of survivors had increased the aboveground biomass to 86 percent of the pre-hurricane value. Over the 5 yr, the net aboveground productivity averaged 21.6 Mg·ha-1·yr-1 and was faster than most plantations and secondary forests in the area. Woodfall and associated nutrient fluxes never attained pre-storm values but by the fifth yr, mean daily total litterfall, and N, P, K, Ca, and Mg fluxes in litterfall were 83, 74, 62, 98, 75, and 81 percent of their pre-disturbance values, respectively. Aboveground nutrient pools of these nutrients ranged from 102 to 161 percent of their pre-disturbance values and were larger after 5 yr because of higher nutrient concentrations in the regeneration compared to the older wood that it replaced. The following sequence of ecosystem reorganization during this first 5 yr period is suggested. An initial period of foliage production and crown development occurred as hurricane survivors re-leafed and herbaceous vegetation and woody regeneration became established. During this period, 75 to 92 percent of the nutrient uptake was retained in the aboveground vegetation and there was a relatively low rate of aboveground carbon accumulation per mole of nutrient cycled. This initial period of canopy development was followed by a peak in aboveground productivity that occurred as early successional species entered the sapling and pole stages. This period was followed by the establishment of the litterfall nutrient cycle and an increase in the net productivity per mole of nutrient cycled. During this 5 yr period, the Bisley forest had some of the lowest withinstand nutrient-use-efficiencies and some of the highest levels of aboveground productivity ever observed in the LEF. The study demonstrates that high levels of productivity and rapid rates of aboveground reorganization can be achieved with rapid within-system cycling and inefficient within-stand nutrient use.

Biomass and Nutrient Content of the Bisley Experimental Watersheds, Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico, Before and After Hurricane Hugo

Biomass and Nutrient Content of the Bisley Experimental Watersheds, Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico, Before and After Hurricane Hugo, 1989
F. N. Scatena, W. Silver, T. Siccama, A. Johnson and M. J. Sanchez
Biotropica
Vol. 25, No. 1 (Mar., 1993), pp. 15-27

Abstract: 
The biomass and nutrient content of two steepland watersheds were estimated using allometric equations and nutrient concentrations derived from a subsample of the vegetation. Prior to the passage of Hurricane Hugo in September 1989, the watersheds had a total vegetative biomass of 301 tons/ha, 75 percent of which was aboveground. The total nutrient content of this vegetation was 907, 49, 644, 653, and 192 kg/ha for N, P, K, Ca, and Mg, respectively and varied with topographic setting. Concentrations per unit dry weight of P (0.16), K (2.49), Ca (2.13), and Mg (0.62) in aboveground vegetation were similar to other steepland tropical forests, while the concentration of N (2.9) was greater. Following the passage of Hurricane Hugo, the standing aboveground biomass was reduced to 113 t/ha and the aboveground nutrient content of the forest was reduced 45 to 48 percent.

STRUCTURAL AND FUNCTIONAL RESPONSES OF A SUBTROPICAL FOREST TO 10 YEARS OF HURRICANES AND DROUGHTS

Beard, Karen H., Kristiina A. Vogt, Daniel J. Vogt, Frederick N. Scatena, Alan P. Covich, Ragnhildur Sigurdardottir, Thomas G. Siccama, and Todd A. Crowl. 2005. STRUCTURAL AND FUNCTIONAL RESPONSES OF A SUBTROPICAL FOREST TO 10 YEARS OF HURRICANES AND DROUGHTS. Ecological Monographs 75:345–361. [doi:10.1890/04-1114]

Abstract: 
Little is known about ecosystem-level responses to multiple, climatic disturbance events. In the subtropical forests of Puerto Rico, the major natural disturbances are hurricanes and droughts. We tested the ecosystem-level effects of these disturbances in sites with different land use histories. From 1989 to 1992, data were collected to determine the effects of Hurricane Hugo and two droughts on litterfall inputs, fine-root biomass, and decomposition rates in three topographic locations (stream, riparian, upslope) within two watersheds. From 1994 to 1998, we added a third watershed and an experiment in which coarse-wood levels were manipulated to simulate hurricane inputs. Data were collected on tree and palm growth rates, litterfall inputs, fine-root biomass, and decomposition rates. From 1994 to 1998, four hurricanes and three droughts were recorded. Measured parameters had unique responses and recovery rates to hurricanes and droughts. Litterfall inputs returned to long-term mean rates within one month following droughts and small-to-moderate hurricanes but required five years to recover after an intense hurricane. In contrast, fine-root biomass recovered seven months after an intense hurricane but failed to recover after five years following a severe drought. Despite the dramatic effects of these weather events on some ecosystem parameters, we found that aboveground measures of tree and palm growth were more affected by preexisting site conditions (e.g., nitrogen availability due to past land use activities) than hurricanes or droughts. The addition of coarse woody debris increased tree and palm growth, fine-root biomass, and litter production; however, in the case of tree and palm growth, this effect was least measurable in the sites with the highest productivity. We found that decomposition rates were more controlled by litter quality than weather conditions. In conclusion, we found that certain ecosystem structures (e.g., canopy structure and fine-root biomass) generally recovered more slowly from disturbance events than certain ecosystem processes (e.g., plant growth rates, decomposition rates). We also found that past land use activities and disturbance legacies were important in determining the responses and recovery rates of the ecosystem to disturbance.

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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