Tropical cyclones, which are frequent along the north-eastern Australian coast, can result in severe disturbances to rain forests in the region (Grove et al. 2000, Webb 1958). Branch breakages and tree falls result in high levels of light penetration to the forest floor, which is normally heavily shaded (Turton 1992). This change in microclimate stimulates the growth of normally suppressed seedlings, the germination of seeds that are triggered by sunlight (Chazdon 1988), and often, invasion by weeds. Fragmented rain forests, that are common in the region, are particularly vulnerable to impacts of cyclones because of their large edge to forest area ratio. Appropriate management of such rain forests, following catastrophic disturbance, requires a thorough understanding of recovery processes at a number of temporal and spatial scales (Grove et al. 2000).
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