Micronesian Mangrove Forest Structure and Tree Responses to a Severe Typhoon
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- Kauffman, J.B. & Cole, T.G. Wetlands (2010) 30: 1077. doi:10.1007/s13157-010-0114-y
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Tropical cyclones are common disturbances that have strong effects on mangrove composition and structure. Because there are numerous ecosystem services provided by mangroves, it is important to understand their adaptations and responses to these climatic events. In April 2004, Typhoon Sudal, a category 3–4 cyclone, passed over the state of Yap, Federated States of Micronesia. For four months following the typhoon we measured forest structure, above-ground biomass, tree mortality and response in six mangroves. The sites were dominated by species common in mangroves throughout the Indo-Pacific—Sonneratia alba, Brugueira gymnorrhiza, and Rhizophora apiculata. Total above-ground biomass (TAGB) of mangrove forests ranged from 211–573 Mg ha-1. Tree mortality ranged from 6% to 32% among stands. Adaptations and responses to the typhoon varied by species, as well as by geographic location. Sonneratia alba had a higher frequency of mainstems broken (26%), but was the only species that vigorously sprouted from dormant basal or epicormic tissues. Standing live trees accounted for 80–95% of TAGB, suggesting that adaptations of mangrove trees can facilitate the persistence of an intact forest structure following typhoons of this intensity. Climatic changes such as sea level rise and increased severity of cyclonic events could alter this relationship.