Puerto Rico

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.

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.

Experimental Removal of Insectivores from Rain Forest Canopy: Direct and Indirect Effects

Dial, Roman, and Jonathan Roughgarden. 1995. Experimental Removal of Insectivores from Rain Forest Canopy: Direct and Indirect Effects. Ecology 76:1821–1834

Abstract: 
This study considered the effects of insectivorous Anolis lizards on a large, complex food web of arthropods and associated herbivory in a tropical rain forest canopy. We excluded Anolis lizards for 6 mo from 20—30 m high tree crowns in Puerto Rican rain forest. Simultaneous with lizard exclusion, we sampled orb spiders, airborne arthropods, and leaf arthropods in lizard removal crowns and in controls. We also sampled herbivory at the end of the experiment. Lizard removal had strong, statistically significant, positive effects on arthropods >2 mm in length and weak negative effects on arthropods <2 mm. Parameters of arthropod body size distributions differed between removals and controls for leaf arthropods, but not for airborne arthropods. Among arthropod taxa >2 mm, both predatory, i.e., orb spiders and parasitic Hymenoptera, and nonpredatory forms, i.e. Diptera, Coleoptera, Orthoptera, and Blattaria, showed strong significant and positive responses to lizard removal. Large Psocoptera, Homoptera, leaf spiders, and ants did not show significant overall responses to lizard removal. Frequency of herbivore damage on new leaves was positively correlated with abundance of Orthoptera and Blattaria. This damage was significantly greater in lizard removal crowns than in controls, indicating an indirect effect of anoles on plants. The indirect effect of lizards on small arthropods through the predatory anthropod pathway appeared weak. Results of lizard removal shown by this study corroborate other lizard removal studies from more xeric, ground—level habitats with simpler food webs in the West Indies, particularly with respect to orb spiders and herbivory. Taken together with the results of similar experiments performed in trophically less complex systems, this experiment suggests that food web size is less important than body size in determining interaction strength between community members.

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.

Top-down effects of a terrestrial frog on forest nutrient dynamics

Beard,Karen H.; Vogt, Kristiina A.; Kulmatiski,Andrew 2002. Top-down effects of a terrestrial frog on forest nutrient dynamics.. Oecologia 133 :583 593.

Abstract: 
Many studies have found top-down effects of predators on prey, but few studies have linked top-down effects of vertebrate predators to nutrient cycling rates in terrestrial systems. In this study, large and significant effects of a terrestrial frog, Eleutherodactylus coqui (coqu), were recorded on nutrient concentrations and fluxes in a subtropical wet forest. In a manipulative experiment, coqus at natural densities were contained in or excluded from 1 m3 enclosures for 4 months. Chemistry of leaf wash (throughfall), foliage, and decomposed leaf litter in the enclosures were measured as indicators of coqu effects on nutrient cycling. Coqu exclusion decreased elemental concentrations in leaf washes by 83% for dissolved organic C, 71% for NH4 +, 33% for NO3 –, 60% for dissolved organic N, and between 60 and 100% for Ca, Fe, Mg, Mn, P, K, and Zn. Coqu exclusion had no effect on foliar chemistry of plants transplanted into the enclosures. However, coqu exclusion decreased nutrient availability in decomposing mixed leaf litter by 12% and 14% for K and P, respectively, and increased C:N ratios by 13%. Changes in nutrient concentrations that occurred with coqu exclusion appear to be due to concentrations of nutrients in coqu waste products and population turnover. The results supported our hypothesis that coqus have an observable effect on nutrient dynamics in this forest. We suggest that the primary mechanism through which they have this effect is through the

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.

Rainfall-induced landslide susceptibility zonation of Puerto Rico.

Lepore, C. Kamal, S. A., Shanahan, P. Bras, R. L., Rainfall-induced landslide susceptibility zonation of Puerto Rico. Environmental Earth Science, 2011. DOI 10.1007/s12665-011-0976-1

Abstract: 
Landslides are a major geologic hazard with estimated tens of deaths and $1–2 billion in economic losses per year in the US alone. The island of Puerto Rico experiences one or two large events per year, often triggered in steeply sloped areas by prolonged and heavy rainfall. Identifying areas susceptible to landslides thus has great potential value for Puerto Rico and would allow better management of its territory. Landslide susceptibility zonation (LSZ) procedures identify areas prone to failure based on the characteristics of past events. LSZs are here developed based on two widely applied methodologies: bivariate frequency ratio (FR method) and logistic regression (LR method). With these methodologies, the correlations among eight possible landslide-inducing factors over the island have been investigated in detail. Both methodologies indicate aspect, slope, elevation, geological discontinuities, and geology as highly significant landslide-inducing factors, together with land-cover for the FR method and distance from road for the LR method. The LR method is grounded in rigorous statistical testing and model building but did not improve results over the simpler FR method. Accordingly, the FR method has been selected to generate a landslide susceptibility map for Puerto Rico. The landslide susceptibility predictions were tested against previous landslide analyses and other landslide inventories. This independent evaluation demonstrated that the two methods are consistent with landslide susceptibility zonation from those earlier studies and showed this analysis to have resulted in a robust and verifiable landslide susceptibility zonation map for the whole island of Puerto Rico.
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