Luke, Denneko Y; McLaren, Kurt P; Wilson, Byron S
Author Affiliation, Ana.
Short-term Dynamics and the Effects of Biotic and Abiotic Factors on Plant Physiognomic Groups in a Hurricane-impacted Lower Montane Tropical Forest
Date of Publication
We assessed the short-term effects of biotic (density, plant size) and abiotic factors (light), on the dynamics of physiognomically different plant groups (palms, tree ferns, lianas, and trees) in a hurricane-impacted tropical wet montane forest, John Crow Mountains, Jamaica. All plants =2 cm (dbh) found within 45, 25 × 25 m permanent sample plots (2.8125 ha), established according to a randomized block design along an elevation gradient, were tagged and measured (dbh) in 2006 and re-assessed in 2012 after Hurricane Dean (2007). Hemispheric light was measured in 2007 and 2008. Tree and liana size class distributions changed due to high mortality in the smallest size classes and their densities declined; however, palm and tree fern density remained unchanged. The dynamics of trees were only related to tree fern and liana dynamics (e.g., tree mortality was negatively related to liana recruitment etc.). Although pre- and posthurricane light was related to palm density and the density of the other plant groups, respectively, there were no significant changes in light. Tree survivorship increased with increasing dbh while posthurricane light and overall density influenced the growth and survivorship of tree species. Species importance value did not change, suggesting that direct regeneration may be the model of forest recovery following this small-scale disturbance. Over the short term, tree species showed life history trade-offs that aid species coexistence after this moderate/low disturbance event. Our study highlights that hurricanes with low impacts can have differential short- and possibly long-term effects on different plant groups.....