Aboveground carbon responses to experimental and natural hurricane impacts in a subtropical wet forest in Puerto Rico
Carbon sequestration is a major climate mitigating process. Tropical forests in particular sequester high amounts of carbon, however disturbance events such as storms can alter the ability of forests to sequester more carbon. Hurricanes create forest gaps and increase ground debris which both provide resources that may promote plant recruitment and growth.
Goals and Methods
The authors use a Canopy Trimming Experiment (CTE) in the field to simulate hurricane disturbance and compare the two main effects of hurricanes. They aim to determine which hurricane effect, canopy removal or debris deposition, impact carbon storage more and how actual hurricanes affect aboveground carbon.
Conclusions and Takeaways
Over a 15 year study, the authors determine that both debris deposition and carbon sequestration increases with canopy removal. However, severe real hurricane disturbance such as Hurricane Maria (2017) created many gaps and felled large trees. Over the long-term, severe hurricanes causing canopy removal and debris deposition will not increase aboveground carbon sequestration due to the quantity of trees felled.
Aboveground carbon responses to experimental and natural hurricane impacts in a subtropical wet forest in Puerto Rico. Ecosphere. 2022;13(4). doi:10.1002/ecs2.4041.