Colorado mountains
From Long-Term Data to Understanding: Toward a Predictive Ecology
2015 LTER ASM Estes Park, CO - August 30 - September 2, 2015

Effects of repeated hurricane disturbance on a tropical wet forest

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Poster Number: 
Presenter/Primary Author: 
Sarah Stankavich

Hurricanes play a dominant role in disturbance regimes on tropical islands. In 2004, LUQ-LTER devised an experiment to study the impact of repeated disturbance on species composition, productivity, and storage and export of C and other nutrients in a tropical wet forest, as well as independently asses the effects of detrital inputs and microclimate on forest regeneration after a hurricane. The canopy of six 30x30m plots was trimmed and the debris was deposited on the ground in order to simulate the effects of a category 4 hurricane.  Within these plots, small-scale experiments were carried out to study fungal, bacterial, and plant communities, herbivory, soil solution chemistry, vertebrate and invertebrate response, and decomposition. In 2014, 3 plots were re-trimmed to simulate a second hurricane. Predictions for the response following a second disturbance include a shift in species composition to more shade intolerant species and a decrease in soil C stocks. The plots will continue to be re-trimmed every 10 years for at least 50 years to study how an increased frequency of intense hurricanes impacts the forest.