Regeneration by seedling recruitment may be important in the long-term patterns of species composition in Taxodium forests, and most studies suggest that seedling recruitment may increase episodically following hurricanes. This study investigates the nature of regeneration in Taxodium swamps with various levels of damage by wind following Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall in August 2005 in Louisiana and Mississippi. All sites had a fairly similar range of percent canopy cover following the storms (78.9 to 92.1% canopy cover). At Cat Island, the timing of the hurricane may have contributed to low recruitment of Taxodium distichum seedlings in the growing season following the hurricanes, as based on long-term presence data from 2003 to 2007. Sites at Pearl River had the highest total tree seedling density of the three locations. Jean Lafitte had the lowest level of tree seedling and sapling density and species richness, and may have been flooded more than the other sites. The invasive species, Triadica sebifera was recruited from the seedling into the sapling class at Jean Lafitte and Pearl River during the study. Overall, the patterns of tree recruitment following the hurricane were variable and depended on location, canopy cover, and flooding.
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Vol. 29 • No. 1