Plant Ecology

, Volume 157, Issue 2, pp 151–164

Regeneration in fringe mangrove forests damaged by Hurricane Andrew

  • Andrew Baldwin
  • Michael Egnotovich
  • Mark Ford
  • William Platt


Mangrove forests along many tropical coastlines are frequently andseverely damaged by hurricanes. The ability of mangrove forests to regeneratefollowing hurricanes has been noted, but changes that occur in vegetationfollowing disturbance by hurricane winds and storm tides have not been studied.We measured changes in plant community structure and environmental variables intwo fringe mangrove forests in south Florida, USA that experienced high windvelocities and storm tides associated with Hurricane Andrew (August1992). Loss of the forest canopy stimulated regeneration via seedlinggrowth and recruitment, as well as resprouting of some trees that survived thehurricane. Initial regeneration differed among species in both forests:Rhizophora mangle L. regenerated primarily via growth ofseedlings present at the time of the hurricane (i.e., release of advancerecruits), but many trees of Avicennia germinans(L.) Stearn and Laguncularia racemosa Gaertn.f.resprouted profusely from dormant epicormic buds. In one forest, which wasformerly dominated by Laguncularia, high densities ofRhizophora seedlings survived the hurricane and grew toform dense stands of saplings and small trees ofRhizophora. In the other forest, there were lowerdensitiesof surviving Rhizophora seedlings (possibly due tohigher storm tide), and extensive bare areas that were colonized byAvicennia, Laguncularia, andherbaceous species. This forest, predominantly Rhizophoraat the time of the hurricane, now contains stands of saplings and small treesofall three species, interspersed with patches dominated by herbaceous plants.These findings indicate that moderately damaged fringe forests may regenerateprimarily via release of Rhizophora advance recruits,leading to single-species stands. In severely damaged forests, seedlingrecruitment may be more important and lead to mixed-species stands.Regeneration of mangrove forests following hurricanes can involve differentpathways produced by complex interactions between resprouting capability,seedling survival, post-hurricane seedling recruitment, and colonizationby herbaceous vegetation. These differences in relative importance ofregeneration pathways, which may result in post-hurricane forestsdifferent from their pre-hurricane structure, suggest that models forregeneration of mangrove forests will be more complex than “directregeneration” models proposed for other tropical forests whereregeneration after hurricanes is dominated by resprouting.

Avicennia germinans Laguncularia racemosa Resprouting Rhizophora mangle Seedling recruitment Storm tide Wind 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew Baldwin
    • 1
  • Michael Egnotovich
    • 2
  • Mark Ford
    • 3
  • William Platt
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Biological Resources EngineeringUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.Center for Environmental Sciences, Chesapeake Biological LaboratoryUniversity of MarylandSolomonsUSA
  3. 3.Louisiana Environmental Research CenterMcNeese State UniversityLake CharlesUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biological SciencesLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA

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