Vargas, R, Hasselquist, N, Allen, EB, Allen, MF (2010). "Effects of a Hurricane Disturbance on Aboveground Forest Structure, Arbuscular Mycorrhizae and Belowground Carbon in a Restored Tropical Forest". ECOSYSTEMS, 13(1), 118-128.
To better understand how management and restoration practices influence the response of terrestrial ecosystems to large-scale disturbances, it is critical to study above- and belowground effects. In this study, we examined the immediate effect of a major hurricane on aboveground forest structure, arbuscular mycorrhizae ( AM) and belowground carbon pools in experimentally thinned plots in a tropical forest. The hurricane occurred five years after a thinning treatment, when thinned plots had similar aboveground carbon stocks but different forest structure compared to control plots. Thinned plots had more large diameter (>10 cm) trees compared to the control plots, which were characterized by a higher density of small diameter (<10 cm) trees. Despite pre-hurricane differences in forest structure, there were no significant differences between treatments in changes of canopy openness or number of affected trees following the hurricane. Thinned plots had larger belowground carbon pools than the controls plots before the hurricane, and these differences remained after the hurricane despite rapid decomposition of organic matter rich in nitrogen. There were no pre-hurricane differences in AM fungal spores or total AM root colonization. The hurricane reduced AM sporulation by nearly 50% in both treatments, yet we observed a significant increase in AM root colonization after the hurricane with greater AM colonization in the thinned plots. Hurricanes have well-known visible aboveground effects, but here we showed that less visible belowground effects are influenced by forest management and may play an important role in forest recovery.