Interactions across scales of disturbance
We used color infrared aerial photos from 1990, remaining landmarks (e.g., river bends and islands), and the ground positioning system to locate 14 canopy gaps that existed before Hurricane Andrew. We recorded data on survival in the gaps and in the nearby canopy, or what remains of it.
Mortality of individuals that had been growing in gaps was significantly lower than for individuals growing in the surrounding canopy (F1,59 = 25.68, p < 0.001; Figure 2). Thus, the regenerators from small-scale disturbance in the forest constituted the majority of the survivors of the large-scale catastrophic disturbance. Observations similar to ours were made in the tropical forests of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Hugo (Brokaw and Grear 1991). Given that all three Florida mangroves can reproduce precociously (i.e., individuals less than 1 m in height will produce viable propagules), these sapling-sized survivors may provide the source for recolonization of destroyed forests.
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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Last updated: 15 January, 2013 @ 12:43 PM (KP)