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Differential Seedling Responses to Litter After Hurricane Hugo in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico

Sandra M. Guzman-Grajales and Lawrence R. Walker
Biotropica
Vol. 23, No. 4, Part A. Special Issue: Ecosystem, Plant, and Animal Responses to Hurricanes in the Caribbean (Dec., 1991), pp. 407-413
DOI: 10.2307/2388259
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2388259
Page Count: 7
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Differential Seedling Responses to Litter After Hurricane Hugo in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico
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Abstract

We studied the dynamics of the seedling community in the Luquillo Experimental Forest during one year following Hurricane Hugo, to look at the effect of three litter treatments (continuous litter removal, unaltered litter quantity [control] and continuous litter addition), on seedling emergence, growth, density, and mortality. Total seedling densities (for both newly emerged and established seedlings) were highest in the litter removal treatment, suggesting that litter is a major constraint to recruitment of seedlings. However, species differed in their responses to the three treatments: species characteristic of early succession (Chionanthus domingensis and Cecropia schreberiana ex. C. peltata) were densest in the litter removal treatment, while densities of species characteristic of late succession either did not increase (Sloanea berteriana) or declined (Dacryodes excelsa) in the litter removal treatment. Height growth was lowest and mortality generally highest for seedlings in the litter removal treatment. Variability in species responses to litter after the hurricane may lead to changes in the species composition of the forest.

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