Manikara bidentata

Effects of Hurricane Hugo on Manilkara bidentata, a Primary Tree Species in the Luqillo Experimental Forest of Puerto Rico

Effects of Hurricane Hugo on Manilkara bidentata, a Primary Tree Species in the Luqillo Experimental Forest of Puerto Rico
Chengxia You and William H. Petty
Biotropica
Vol. 23, No. 4, Part A. Special Issue: Ecosystem, Plant, and Animal Responses to Hurricanes in the Caribbean (Dec., 1991), pp. 400-406

Abstract: 
Changes in the population structure and recruitment characteristics of Manilkara bidentata populations were investigated at two sites (El Verde & Bisley) in the Luquillo Experimental Forest (LEF), at one month and nine months after Hurricane Hugo. Fatal damage occurred to 4 percent of the trees at the El Verde site. Severe damage to mature trees disrupted seed production. Sixty percent of the young seedling population was destroyed, mainly as a result of burial by litter. For surviving seedlings, the posthurricane growth rate (in height) of old seedlings was 2 cm/mo, 17 times greater than that under prehurricane conditions. The prehurricane population of young seedlings had a large number of individuals and a long transition period (over 14 yr); whereas, the posthurricane population had fewer individuals and a shorter transition period (less than 2 yr). Increased growth rates of seedlings were related to increased light at the forest floor. The recruitment rate of the Manilkara population from the seedling size class into the sapling size class was greater than that under prehurricane conditions. Rapid adjustment to posthurricane conditions, high tree survival, and increased number of seedlings recruited into larger size classes may increase the abundance of Manilkara trees in the forest. These adaptations are especially significant in the LEF and other forests which experience frequent hurricane disturbances. Based upon the effects of Hurricane Hugo, it appears that hurricanes play an important role in releasing suppressed seedling growth of Manilkara populations and that hurricanes may contribute to the abundance of Manilkara trees in the LEF
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