A decade of belowground reorganization following multiple disturbances in a subtropical wet forest

Yit Arn Teh, Whendee L. Silver, Frederick N. Scatena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Humid tropical forests are dynamic ecosystems that experience multiple and overlapping disturbance events that vary in frequency, intensity, and spatial extent. Here we report the results of a 10-year study investigating the effects of forest clearing and multiple hurricanes on ecosystem carbon reservoirs, nutrient pools and vegetation. The aboveground plant community was most heavily affected by multiple disturbances, with the 9-year-old stands showing high rates of hurricane-induced mortality relative to surrounding forest. Belowground pools were less affected. Live fine root biomass fluctuated in response to multiple disturbances, but returned to pre-disturbance levels after 10 years. Soil C was resilient to clearing and hurricanes, probably due to the large pool size and high clay content. Soil P fluctuated over time, declining during periods of rapid plant recovery and growth. With the exception of K, base cations recovered within 2 years following clearing and showed little response to hurricane disturbance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-212
Number of pages16
JournalPlant and Soil
Volume323
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009

Keywords

  • Biogeochemical cycling
  • Gap dynamics
  • Hurricanes
  • Succession
  • Land-use change
  • Luquillo Mountains Puerto Rico
  • LUQUILLO-EXPERIMENTAL-FOREST
  • BISLEY EXPERIMENTAL WATERSHEDS
  • ABANDONED TROPICAL PASTURES
  • HIGHLY WEATHERED SOILS
  • GAP-PHASE REGENERATION
  • LAND-USE HISTORY
  • PUERTO-RICO
  • HURRICANE-HUGO
  • CONVENTIONAL TILLAGE
  • NEOTROPICAL FOREST

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