, Volume 263, Issue 1, pp 69-84

Modeling the effects of Hurricane Hugo on spatial and temporal variation in primary productivity and soil carbon and nitrogen in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico

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Abstract

Hurricanes account for much of the spatial and temporal variation in forest productivity and soil organic matter pools in many forest ecosystems. In this study, we used an ecosystem level model, TOPOECO, to simulate the effects of Hurricane Hugo (18 September 1989) on spatial and temporal patterns of gross primary productivity (GPP), net primary productivity (NPP), soil organic carbon (SOC) and nitrogen over the entire Luquillo Experimental Forest (LEF), Puerto Rico, a tropical rainforest. Our simulation results indicated that simulated annual GPP increased by an average of 30% five years after Hugo in the Tabonuco forest at low elevations where there was a fast recovery of the canopy, whereas simulated GPP decreased by an average of 20% in the Palm and Dwarf forests at high elevations as a result of the slow recovery of the canopy. Simulated annual NPP in the Palm and Dwarf forests also did not recover to pre-Hugo levels within 5 years. Simulated storages of SOC, CO2 emission from decomposition of SOC and total soil nitrogen increased slightly but N mineralization rate increased significantly in all four vegetation types due to the massive input of plant materials from Hugo at low elevations and the slow decomposition at high elevations.