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Tree damage and microclimate of forest canopies along a hurricane-impact gradient in Cusuco National Park, Honduras

  • Sven Peter Batke (a1) and Daniel Lucius Kelly (a1)
Abstract
Abstract:

Past studies of large, infrequent wind disturbances have shown that topographical, biological and meteorological factors interact to create complex damage patterns to forest ecosystems. However, the extent to which some of these factors change the forest microclimate along a vertical forest profile is poorly known. In a previous study, we correlated tree damage with a hurricane model that estimated past hurricane impacts within Cusuco National Park, Honduras over a 15-y period. Here we use the model to compare physical tree damage among different species in ten 150 ×150-m plots and to correlate modelled exposure of hurricanes to microclimate measurements along the vertical canopy over a 12-mo period. It was found that past hurricane impacts could still be detected long after the events. Different tree species showed different levels of wind damage. Most branch damage was observed on conifers (Pinus spp.), followed by angiosperm species. Vapour pressure deficit increased with height in the canopy and with increased disturbance level. A linear model explained 83% of the total variance in vapour pressure deficit, with 67% attributed to monthly fluctuation, 15% to altitude, 12% to historical hurricane damage and 6% to height in the canopy.

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1Corresponding author. Email: batkesp@tcd.ie
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Journal of Tropical Ecology
  • ISSN: 0266-4674
  • EISSN: 1469-7831
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