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1 March 2009 Effects of Hurricane Rita on Three Long-Term Forest Study Plots in East Texas, USA
Paul A. Harcombe, Lisa E. Mann Leipzig, I. Sandra Elsik
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We investigated variation in species resistance to hurricane winds and effects of Hurricane Rita on long-term forest dynamics using three 4-ha permanent plots in the Big Thicket of east Texas. Woody stems > 4.5 cm DBH that were severely damaged, uprooted, or snapped constituted 5% of stems at the dry upland site, 22% at the river floodplain site, and 31% at the mesic site. This variation corresponded to distance from the coast, distance from the storm track, and exposure. Nine of 27 canopy species populations showed a significantly positive relationship between mortality and DBH, and one showed a significant negative relationship. We identified 10 resistant, three intermediate, and 14 susceptible species populations. There was modest consistency in species behavior across sites, and consistency of some species between our results and the literature. Some inconsistencies can be accounted for by low vigor of some populations in our study. Relative dominance changes in the canopy and compositional trends in the small tree layer indicated that the hurricane accelerated long-term trends towards increasing dominance of shade-tolerant species at the dry and mesic sites but not at the wet site. We conclude that interspecific variation in resistance does not strongly alter temporal patterns that are based on shade tolerance and recruitment characteristics, in part because of relatively low overall damage rates.

Paul A. Harcombe, Lisa E. Mann Leipzig, and I. Sandra Elsik "Effects of Hurricane Rita on Three Long-Term Forest Study Plots in East Texas, USA," Wetlands 29(1), 88-100, (1 March 2009).
Received: 7 March 2008; Accepted: 29 October 2008; Published: 1 March 2009

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