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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-357
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-357
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 23 Sep 2019

Submitted as: research article | 23 Sep 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG).

Understanding Tropical Forest Abiotic Response to Hurricanes using Experimental Manipulations, Field Observations, and Satellite Data

Ashley E> Van Beusekom1, Grizelle González1, Sarah Stankavich2, Jess K. Zimmerman2, and Alonso Ramírez3 Ashley E> Van Beusekom et al.
  • 1USDA Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestry, Río Piedras, Puerto Rico 00926, USA
  • 2Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras campus, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 00931, USA
  • 3Department of Applied Ecology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27605, USA

Abstract. With projected increasing intensity of hurricanes and large uncertainty in the path of forest recovery from hurricanes, studies are needed to understand the fundamental response of forests to canopy opening and debris deposition: the response of the abiotic factors underneath the canopy. Through manipulative experiments and instrumenting hurricane María in the Luquillo Experimental Forest of Puerto Rico, this study found a long recovery time of the primary abiotic factors (light, throughfall, and temperature) influenced by the disturbance of canopy opening, and complex responses by the secondary abiotic factors (humidity, soil moisture, and leaf saturation) influenced by the disturbance of the primary factors. Recovery took up to 9 years for beneath canopy light, while throughfall recovery took 6 years. Air and soil temperature seemingly recovered fairly quickly from each disturbance, however temperature was the most important modulator of secondary factors, which followed the long-term patterns of the throughfall. While the soil remained wetter and humidity stayed lower until recovery, leaves in the litter and canopy were wetter and drier, with evidence that leaves dry out faster in low rainfall and saturate faster in high rainfall after disturbance. Comparison of satellite and field data before and after the 2017 hurricane showed the utility of satellites in expanding the data coverage, but the muted response of the satellite data suggest they measure dense forest as well as thin forest that is not as disturbed by hurricanes. Thus, quick recovery times recorded by satellites should not be assumed representative of all of the forest.

Ashley E> Van Beusekom et al.
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Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Ashley E> Van Beusekom et al.
Ashley E> Van Beusekom et al.
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Short summary
This study looks at forest abiotic responses to canopy openness and debris deposition that follow a hurricane. We find that recovery to full canopy may take a decade, and that recovery of humidity, soil moisture, and leaf saturation under the canopy is not monotonic and may temporarily look recovered before the response is over. Furthermore, we find that satellite data show a quicker recovery than field data, necessitating caution when looking responses to hurricanes with satellites.
This study looks at forest abiotic responses to canopy openness and debris deposition that...
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