Field Studies of Ecosystem Response

Ecosystem response to individual hurricanes can be measured directly through field studies of actual or simulated wind damage. Research at the Harvard Forest has focused on two areas: (1) long-term studies of forest recovery in central New England after the 1938 hurricane, and (2) intensive studies of a simulated hurricane blowdown created at the Harvard Forest in October 1990. The 1938 hurricane, a category 3 storm at landfall, caused widespread F2 damage across much of central New England. Studies have focused on patterns of damage and long-term changes in forest composition and structure. In the 1990 blowdown experiment, mature trees in an upland, 0.8-ha 75-year-old red oak-red maple (Quercus rubra-Acer rubrum) stand were pulled over with a logging winch to closely approximate the effects of the 1938 hurricane. Studies have focused on vegetation mortality and regeneration, community dynamics, and ecosystem processes.

At the Luquillo Experimental Forest (LUQ), research has focused on the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo in September 1989. This storm, also a category 3 hurricane at landfall, caused widespread F2 damage across much of eastern Puerto Rico. Ecosystem response was investigated at various sites throughout the LUQ, with intensive studies at two sites. The first site, the Bisley watershed in the northeastern section of the LUQ, suffered extensive blowdowns. The second site is the Hurricane Recovery Plot at El Verde in the northwestern section of the LUQ. This area experienced widespread defoliation and branch break as well as scattered blow-

downs. Both sites are located in the Tabonuco forest zone at elevations of 300500 m. Studies have focused on patterns of damage, vegetation mortality and regeneration, community dynamics, ecosystem processes, and impacts on animal populations.

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