Impact of a Catastrophic Hurricane on Island Populations

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Science  31 Jul 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5377, pp. 695-697
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5377.695

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Lizard and spider populations were censused immediately before and after Hurricane Lili on islands differentially affected by the storm surge. The results support three general propositions. First, the larger organisms, lizards, are more resistant to the immediate impact of moderate disturbance, whereas the more prolific spiders recover faster. Second, extinction risk is related to population size when disturbance is moderate but not when it is catastrophic. Third, after catastrophic disturbance, the recovery rate among different types of organisms is related to dispersal ability. The absence of the poorer dispersers, lizards, from many suitable islands is probably the result of long-lasting effects of catastrophes.

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