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Hurricane Disturbance and Tropical Tree Species Diversity

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Science  27 Oct 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5492, pp. 788-791
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5492.788

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Abstract

The debate over the maintenance of high diversity of tree species in tropical forests centers on the role of tree-fall gaps as a primary source of disturbance. Using a 10-year data series accumulated since Hurricane Joan struck the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua in 1988, we examined the pattern of species accumulation over time and with increased sampling of individuals. Our analysis shows that the pattern after a hurricane differs from the pattern after a simple tree-fall disturbance, and we conclude that pioneers are limited in large disturbances and thus do not suppress other species the way they do in smaller disturbances.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: jvander{at}umich.edu

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