Response to Disturbance

TitleResponse to Disturbance
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsN. V. L. Brokaw, Zimmerman, JK, Willig, MR, Camilo, G, Covich, A, Crowl, AT, Fetcher, N, Haines, BL, Lodge, DJ, Lugo, AE, Myster, RW, Pringle, CM, Sharpe, JM, Scantena, FN, Schowalter, TD, Silver, WL, Thompson, J, Vogt, D, Vogt, D, Waide, RB, Walker, LA, Woolbright, LL, Wunderle, Jr., JM, Zou, XM
EditorN. V. L. Brokaw, Crowl, AT, Lugo, AE, McDowell, WH, Scantena, FN, Waide, RB, Willig, MR
Book TitleA Caribbean Forest Tapestry: The Multidimensional Nature of Disturbance and Response
PublisherUniversity Press
Accession NumberLUQ.1075

Key Points • Background treefall gaps (not caused by hurricanes) are filled with plant regrowth as in other tropical forests. There is limited response by animals to treefall gaps, probably because background treefall gaps are relatively less important in these forests, which are dominated by chronic, widespread hurricane effects. • Despite substantial effects on trees, the tree species composition changed little in the tabonuco forest after two recent hurricanes. • Animal species show various responses to the changes in forest architecture and food resources caused by hurricanes. Bird species tend to be plastic in habitat and dietary requirements, probably due to the large changes in forest structure caused by hurricanes and regrowth, which require birds to change their foraging locations and diets. • Although hurricane-produced debris is substantial (litterfall up to 400 times the average daily amount), decomposition, nutrient export, and trace gas emissions after hurricanes change only briefly, as rapid regrowth reasserts control over most ecosystem processes. • In general, terrestrial ecosystem functions recover faster than structure. • Hurricanes dump debris in streams, and floods redistribute inorganic and detrital material, as well as stream organisms, throughout the benthic environment along the stream continuum. • Succession in landslides is slow and primarily limited by the availability of seed and by low nutrient availability, and early plant colonists, especially ferns, have a strong influence on later dynamics. • Past land use is the most important determinant of species composition in tabonuco forest, despite repeated hurricane effects and underlying environ- mental variation such as in soil and topography. • The native organisms of the Luquillo Mountains are more resilient after natural than human disturbances.