All broadleaf woody plants of pinelands and hammocks (upland areas) in the northern parts of Everglades National Park were defoliated by the strong winds of Hurricane Andrew in August 1992. Most plants re-leafed within two months of the storm, at which time we tagged newly produced leaves of eight species (five species in two hardwood hammocks and four in two pineland sites; one species was studied in both habitats), and monitored individual leaf area lost or damaged monthly for three months. We marked a second cohort of new leaves on the same individuals four months later and monitored these for three months. Herbivory rates in leaves of the first cohort were lower than observed in pre-hurricane studies on two of the species, and lower in the first cohort than in the second cohort in six of the eight species studied, indicating that most insect herbivores were virtually absent for the first few months after the storm. Additionally, most species produced significantly larger leaves in the first cohort than the second cohort, and leaves of the second cohort were not significantly different in size from pre-hurricane leaves in one species for which pre-hurricane data were available. The large disturbance of the hurricane defoliated and reduced the aboveground biomass of the plants, but apparently also eliminated most herbivores and competition for light, facilitating the recovery of the plants.
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Vol. 34 • No. 4