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Mangroves, Hurricanes, and Lightning Strikes

Assessment of Hurricane Andrew suggests an interaction across two differing scales of disturbance

Thomas J. Smith, III, Michael B. Robblee, Harold R. Wanless, and Thomas W. Doyle
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Posted with permission from BioScience. Thomas J. Smith, III, Michael B. Robblee, Harold R. Wanless, and Thomas W. Doyle, Mangroves, Hurricanes, and Lightning Strikes, BioScience Vol. 44 No. 4, April 1994. Copyright, American Institute of Biological Sciences.

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The track of Hurricane Andrew carried it across one of the most extensive mangrove forests in the New World. Although it is well known that hurricanes affect mangrove forests, surprisingly little quantitative information exists concerning hurricane impact on forest structure, succession, species composition, and dynamics of mangrove-dependent fauna or on rates of ecosystem recovery (see Craighead and Gilbert 1962, Roth 1992, Smith 1992, Smith and Duke 1987, Stoddart 1969).

The recovery of Florida's mangrove forests is by no means assured
After Hurricane Andrew's passage across south Florida, we assessed the environmental damage to the natural resources of the Everglades and Biscayne National Parks. Quantitative data collected during subsequent field trips (October 1992 to July 1993) are also provided. We present measurements of initial tree mortality by species and size class, estimates of delayed (or continuing) tree mortality, and observations of geomorphological changes along the coast and in the forests that could influence the course of forest' recovery. We discuss a potential interaction across two differing scales of disturbance within mangrove forest systems: hurricanes and lightning strikes.

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Thomas J. Smith III is the research coordinator at the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Naples, FL 33962. Michael B. Robblee is a research ecologist at the South Florida Research Center, Everglades National Park, Homestead, FL 33030. Harold Wanless is a professor in the Department of Geological Sciences, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124. Thomas W. Doyle is a wetlands ecologist in the US National Biological Survey, National Wetlands Research Center, Lafayette, LA 70506.

Please note: At the time of publication, Thomas J. Smith III was the research coordinator at the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. He is currently at the United States Geological Survey, 600 Fourth Street South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.



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