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Special Issue "Forest Responses to Large-Scale Wind Disturbance"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Ecophysiology and Biology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 September 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Grizelle González

USDA-FS International Institute of Tropical Forestry, Jardín Botánico Sur, 1201 Calle Ceiba, San Juan, PR 00926-1119, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: soils; decay; nutrient cycling; soil organisms
Guest Editor
Dr. Aaron B. Shiels

USDA-WS National Wildlife Research Center, 4101 LaPorte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521, USA
Website | E-Mail

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Large wind storms play a critical role in forests, and this type of disturbance is initially most prominent in the canopy but affects the whole vertical structure of the forest ecosystem including belowground processes. Large wind storms occur globally, affecting temperate and tropical forests, and here we take this opportunity of producing a special issue on this subject to document results about the effects of large-scale wind events on forest ecosystems. Hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones are large-scale wind events that result in whole-ecosystem changing events when they pass over forests. Wind disturbance results in leaf and branch loss, and biomass transfer from the canopy to the ground. Such events trigger a succession of events across the whole forest profile, affecting subsequent biodiversity and ecosystem processes. Given the current and expected changes resulting from global climate change, we believe this is a critical time for such a compilation of studies. This Special Issue provides an opportunity to better provide for needed scientific studies that can help inform forest management in light of increased wind disturbance, as well as outline new frontiers of research. We encourage contributions to the Special Issue from all fields of large-scale wind disturbance, including experimental studies, monitoring approaches and models, and general promotion of knowledge and adaptation strategies, management, and future development of forest ecosystems.

Dr. Grizelle González
Dr. Aaron B. Shiels
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Forests is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Extreme Wind Events
  • Disturbances
  • Cyclone/Hurricane/Typhoon
  • Biodiversity
  • Carbon Dynamics
  • Ecosystem Services
  • Forest Regeneration
  • Forest Management

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle The Long-Term Effects of Wind Disturbance on a Sitka Spruce-Western Hemlock Forest
Forests 2019, 10(2), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10020119
Received: 12 January 2019 / Revised: 24 January 2019 / Accepted: 1 February 2019 / Published: 2 February 2019
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Abstract
Wind is an important disturbance in many forested regions, but research has largely focused on immediate to short-term (<10 years) effects on species composition and structure of stands and landscapes. We used a set of ten, 0.4-ha plots established in 1935 and measured [...] Read more.
Wind is an important disturbance in many forested regions, but research has largely focused on immediate to short-term (<10 years) effects on species composition and structure of stands and landscapes. We used a set of ten, 0.4-ha plots established in 1935 and measured every 5–13 years to examine the cumulative effects of multiple wind disturbance events in the coastal forests of Oregon. Since 1935 there have been ten documented wind events in coastal Oregon with hurricane-force winds. Most of the eight windstorms since 1962 noticeably influenced at least one plot; however, no individual storm clearly influenced all plots. Net rate of biomass accumulation of plots was negative when biomass mortality exceeded 29–41 Mg/ha per 5-year period (or 3.4%–5.8% per 5 years). In contrast, wind disturbance did not clearly reduce NPP (Net Primary Production) in any plot until biomass mortality exceeded 50%. Major wind-related mortality episodes in individual plots did not necessarily strongly influence the average loss of biomass across all plots. For example, a biomass loss of 88% in one plot resulted in an average loss of only 3.4% across all plots. In contrast, the cumulative effect of multiple plots with repeated wind-related mortality did decrease biomass at the multi-plot level. Depending on the plot, wind caused 16%–59% of the total mortality over time, and the proportion of wind-related mortality has increased 5- to 8-fold since 1940. The majority (80%) of wind-related mortality was “immediate”, but some trees survived up to 35 years after being significantly wind damaged. Despite western hemlock having a wind-related mortality rate that was at least twice that of Sitka spruce, the number of stems of the former species increased over time. This trend may be related to the predominant recovery mechanism which was the release of existing small trees and the fact that the majority of ingrowth was western hemlock. This study suggests that wind disturbance is a heterogeneous, gradual process and that while individual events have a detectable impact on structure and function, the largest impacts, at least in systems where it reoccurs each decade, are cumulative. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Responses to Large-Scale Wind Disturbance)
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Open AccessArticle Engaging Middle School Students in Authentic Scientific Practices Can Enhance Their Understanding of Ecosystem Response to Hurricane Disturbance
Forests 2018, 9(10), 658; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9100658
Received: 15 September 2018 / Revised: 17 October 2018 / Accepted: 19 October 2018 / Published: 22 October 2018
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Abstract
Ecosystem response to hurricane disturbance is complex and multi-faceted. The likelihood of increased frequency of severe hurricanes creates a need for the general public to understand how ecosystems respond to hurricanes. Yet, opportunities to study disturbances to complex systems are rare in U.S. [...] Read more.
Ecosystem response to hurricane disturbance is complex and multi-faceted. The likelihood of increased frequency of severe hurricanes creates a need for the general public to understand how ecosystems respond to hurricanes. Yet, opportunities to study disturbances to complex systems are rare in U.S. K–12 schools. Educators and researchers in the Luquillo Long-Term Ecological Research program used the results of research on ecosystem response to hurricane disturbance in the Luquillo Experimental Forest as a foundation for the development of Journey to El Yunque, a web-based, middle-school curriculum unit. The program engages students in using models as evidence to develop explanations for how particular species respond to hurricane disturbance. Prior research in education has shown that engaging students in a particular role, like that of a scientist, could have detrimental effects on students’ abilities to transfer what is learned from one context to another. In this research, we sought to understand whether having students engage in authentic scientific practices could support transfer of knowledge to the abstract context of a standards-based assessment. Students were randomly assigned to engage in the program in the role of a scientist or in the role of a student learning about an ecosystem. The dependent variables included students’ comprehension of the background readings, their predictions of population changes, and their overall learning of ecology. The results indicate that taking on a scientist role during the learning activities had an indirect effect on general ecology knowledge by increasing the quality of students’ notetaking during background reading. The results also indicate that students struggled to use their knowledge to develop a robust explanation for how species respond to hurricane disturbance. Journey to El Yunque provides a framework for engaging students in authentic investigations of hurricane disturbance. Future research will examine how to improve the quality of students’ final explanations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Responses to Large-Scale Wind Disturbance)
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Open AccessArticle Changes in Phylogenetic Community Structure of the Seedling Layer Following Hurricane Disturbance in a Human-Impacted Tropical Forest
Forests 2018, 9(9), 556; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9090556
Received: 25 July 2018 / Revised: 1 September 2018 / Accepted: 6 September 2018 / Published: 11 September 2018
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Abstract
Disturbance plays a key role in shaping forest composition and diversity. We used a community phylogeny and long-term forest dynamics data to investigate biotic and abiotic factors shaping tropical forest regeneration following both human and natural disturbance. Specifically, we examined shifts in seedling [...] Read more.
Disturbance plays a key role in shaping forest composition and diversity. We used a community phylogeny and long-term forest dynamics data to investigate biotic and abiotic factors shaping tropical forest regeneration following both human and natural disturbance. Specifically, we examined shifts in seedling phylogenetic and functional (i.e., seed mass) community structure over a decade following a major hurricane in a human-impacted forest in Puerto Rico. Phylogenetic relatedness of the seedling community decreased in the first five years post-hurricane and then increased, largely driven by changes in the abundance of a common palm species. Functional structure (based on seed mass) became increasingly clustered through time, due to canopy closure causing small-seeded, light-demanding species to decline in abundance. Seedling neighbor density and phylogenetic relatedness negatively affected seedling survival, which likely acted to reduce phylogenetic relatedness within seedling plots. Across the study site, areas impacted in the past by high-intensity land use had lower or similar phylogenetic relatedness of seedling communities than low-intensity past land use areas, reflecting interactive effects of human and natural disturbance. Our study demonstrates how phylogenetic and functional information offer insights into the role of biotic and abiotic factors structuring forest recovery following disturbance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Responses to Large-Scale Wind Disturbance)
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Open AccessArticle Responses of Soil Labile Organic Carbon to a Simulated Hurricane Disturbance in a Tropical Wet Forest
Forests 2018, 9(7), 420; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9070420
Received: 12 June 2018 / Revised: 7 July 2018 / Accepted: 9 July 2018 / Published: 12 July 2018
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Abstract
Hurricanes are an important disturbance in the tropics that can alter forest ecosystem properties and processes. To understand the immediate influence of hurricane disturbance on carbon cycling, we examined soil labile organic carbon (LOC) in a Canopy Trimming Experiment (CTE) located in the [...] Read more.
Hurricanes are an important disturbance in the tropics that can alter forest ecosystem properties and processes. To understand the immediate influence of hurricane disturbance on carbon cycling, we examined soil labile organic carbon (LOC) in a Canopy Trimming Experiment (CTE) located in the Luquillo Experimental Forest of Puerto Rico. We trimmed tree canopy and deposited debris (CTDD) on the forest ground of the treatment plots in December 2014, and collected floor mass samples and 0–10 cm soil samples three weeks before the treatment, as well as at scheduled intervals for 120 weeks after the treatment. Within the first week following the CTDD treatment, the mean soil microbial biomass carbon (MBC) and soil LOC in the CTDD plots were significantly greater than in the control plots (soil MBC: 2.56 g/kg versus 1.98 g/kg, soil LOC: 9.16 g/kg versus 6.44 g/kg, respectively), and the mean turnover rates of soil LOC in the CTDD plots were significantly faster than in the control plots. The measured indices fluctuated temporally more in the CTDD plots than in the control plots, especially between the 12th and 84th week after the CTDD treatment. The treatment effect on soil LOC and its turnover rate gradually disappeared after the 84th week following the treatment, while higher levels of soil MBC in the CTDD plots than in the control plots remained high, even at the 120th week. Our data suggest that hurricane disturbance can accelerate the cycling of soil LOC on a short temporal scale of less than two years, but might have a longer lasting effect on soil MBC in a tropical wet forest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Responses to Large-Scale Wind Disturbance)
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Open AccessArticle The Frequency of Cyclonic Wind Storms Shapes Tropical Forest Dynamism and Functional Trait Dispersion
Forests 2018, 9(7), 404; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9070404
Received: 5 May 2018 / Revised: 28 June 2018 / Accepted: 3 July 2018 / Published: 5 July 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1607 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
As cyclonic wind storms (hurricanes and typhoons) increase in frequency and intensity with climate change, it is important to understand their effects on the populations and communities of tropical trees they impact. Using tree demographic data from four large, tropical forest dynamics plots [...] Read more.
As cyclonic wind storms (hurricanes and typhoons) increase in frequency and intensity with climate change, it is important to understand their effects on the populations and communities of tropical trees they impact. Using tree demographic data from four large, tropical forest dynamics plots that differ in cyclonic storm frequency, we compare tree population and community dynamics. Additionally, we assess the effect of cyclonic storms on three functional traits, specific leaf area, wood density, and tree height of the dynamic tree assemblages. Mortality, growth and recruitment rates and the intrinsic rates of population growth of species differed across the plots, and were most dynamic, especially for stems 1–2 cm in diameter, at the plot which had an intermediate level of cyclonic storm frequency. Functional assemblages of species had the greatest degree of temporal variation in relation to disturbance, as measured by the change in functional divergence for the two plots with more intermediate cyclonic storm recurrence. Therefore, cyclonic storms affecting these plots generally have a greater effect on forest composition and dynamism than comparable cyclonic storms do on the plot which experiences cyclonic storms more frequently. Thus, we provide some evidence that community-wide demographic resistance to cyclonic storms is generally lower at an intermediate frequency of storms. While cyclonic storm strength and timing are important determinants of the within forest variation in tree dynamics and functional trait assemblages, we also show that cyclonic storm timing and frequency shapes tropical forest dynamics and functional composition across forests. We conclude that, over a given time interval, sites with intermediate levels of damaging cyclonic wind disturbance express a greater potential for life-history variation in the forest community, when compared to sites with less or more frequent disturbance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Responses to Large-Scale Wind Disturbance)
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Open AccessArticle Litterfall Production Prior to and during Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Four Puerto Rican Forests
Forests 2018, 9(6), 367; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9060367
Received: 6 May 2018 / Revised: 11 June 2018 / Accepted: 15 June 2018 / Published: 19 June 2018
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (2733 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck Puerto Rico on the 6th and 20th of September 2017, respectively. These two powerful Cat 5 hurricanes severely defoliated forest canopy and deposited massive amounts of litterfall in the forests across the island. We established a 1-ha research [...] Read more.
Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck Puerto Rico on the 6th and 20th of September 2017, respectively. These two powerful Cat 5 hurricanes severely defoliated forest canopy and deposited massive amounts of litterfall in the forests across the island. We established a 1-ha research plot in each of four forests (Guánica State Forest, Río Abajo State Forest, Guayama Research Area and Luquillo Experiment Forest) before September 2016, and had collected one full year data of litterfall production prior to the arrival of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Hurricane-induced litterfall was collected within one week after Hurricane Irma, and within two weeks after Hurricane Maria. Each litterfall sample was sorted into leaves, wood (branches and barks), reproductive organs (flowers, fruits and seeds) and miscellaneous materials (mostly dead animal bodies or feces) after oven-drying to constant weight. Annual litterfall production prior to the arrival of Hurricanes Irma and Maria varied from 4.68 to 25.41 Mg/ha/year among the four forests, and annual litterfall consisted of 50–81% leaffall, 16–44% woodfall and 3–6% fallen reproductive organs. Hurricane Irma severely defoliated the Luquillo Experimental Forest, but had little effect on the other three forests, whereas Hurricane Maria defoliated all four forests. Total hurricane-induced litterfall from Hurricanes Irma and Maria amounted to 95–171% of the annual litterfall production, with leaffall and woodfall from hurricanes amounting to 63–88% and 122–763% of their corresponding annual leaffall and woodfall, respectively. Hurricane-induced litterfall consisted of 30–45% leaves and 55–70% wood. Our data showed that Hurricanes Irma and Maria deposited a pulse of litter deposition equivalent to or more than the total annual litterfall input with at least a doubled fraction of woody materials. This pulse of hurricane-induced debris and elevated proportion of woody component may trigger changes in biogeochemical processes and soil communities in these Puerto Rican forests. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Responses to Large-Scale Wind Disturbance)
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Review

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Open AccessReview Responses of Two Litter-Based Invertebrate Communities to Changes in Canopy Cover in a Forest Subject to Hurricanes
Forests 2018, 9(6), 309; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9060309
Received: 29 April 2018 / Revised: 25 May 2018 / Accepted: 31 May 2018 / Published: 1 June 2018
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Abstract
Tropical forests are subject to seasonal hurricanes resulting in cycles of canopy opening and deposition of litter, followed by periods of recovery and canopy closure. Herein, we review two studies of litter-based communities in Puerto Rico; (i) a survey of bromeliad invertebrates in [...] Read more.
Tropical forests are subject to seasonal hurricanes resulting in cycles of canopy opening and deposition of litter, followed by periods of recovery and canopy closure. Herein, we review two studies of litter-based communities in Puerto Rico; (i) a survey of bromeliad invertebrates in three montane forest types along an elevational gradient in 1993–1997, during a period of canopy recovery after two severe hurricanes, and the results compared with those from a resurvey in 2010, and (ii) a large scale canopy trimming experiment in the lower montane (Tabonuco) forest designed to simulate an hurricane event, and to separate the effects of canopy opening from debris deposition. Measurements of changes in invertebrate community parameters and decay rates of litter were made in a litter bag experiment as part of this major experiment. As the canopy closed, during the periods of study, bromeliad density reduced, especially in the Tabonuco forest. This was associated with a decline in both alpha and gamma invertebrate diversity, which appears to have involved the loss of rarer species. In the Tabonuco forest, two endemic bromeliad specialists were not found during resampling in 2010, though the most common species were remarkably stable over the two decades. Canopy opening significantly altered the diversity, biomass, and composition of litter communities, irrespective of litter deposition. It particularly reduced organisms responsible for comminution of litter and increased the activity of fungivores and microbiovores. Both studies showed that canopy disturbance, either indirectly or directly, adversely affects invertebrate diversity and detrital processing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Responses to Large-Scale Wind Disturbance)
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