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Variation in Susceptibility to Hurricane Damage as a Function of Storm Intensity in Puerto Rican Tree Species

Charles D. Canham, Jill Thompson, Jess K. Zimmerman and María Uriarte
Biotropica
Vol. 42, No. 1 (Jan., 2010), pp. 87-94
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27742867
Page Count: 8
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Variation in Susceptibility to Hurricane Damage as a Function of Storm Intensity in Puerto Rican Tree Species
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Abstract

One of the most significant challenges in developing a predictive understanding of the long-term effects of hurricanes on tropical forests is the development of quantitative models of the relationships between variation in storm intensity and the resulting severity of tree damage and mortality. There have been many comparative studies of interspecific variation in resistance of trees to wind damage based on aggregate responses to individual storms. We use a new approach, based on ordinal logistic regression, to fit quantitative models of the susceptibility of a tree species to different levels of damage across an explicit range of hurricane intensity. Our approach simultaneously estimates both the local intensity of the storm within a plot and the susceptibility to storm damage of different tree species within plots. Using the spatial variation of storm intensity embedded in two hurricanes (Hugo in 1989 and Georges in 1998) that struck the 16 ha Luquillo Forest Dynamics Plot in eastern Puerto Rico, we show that variation in susceptibility to storm damage is an important aspect of life history differentiation. Pioneers such as Cecropia schreberiana are highly susceptible to stem damage, while the late successional species Dacryodes excelsa suffered very little stem damage but significant crown damage. There was a surprisingly weak relationship between tree diameter and the susceptibility to damage for most of the 12 species examined. This may be due to the effects of repeated storms and trade winds on the architecture of trees and forest stands in this Puerto Rican subtropical wet forest.

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