Event Website

http://www.nafew2009.org/

Start Date

23-6-2009 2:10 PM

End Date

23-6-2009 2:30 PM

Description

Within the continental US, the broadleaved forests of south Florida are exceptional in the abundance and diversity of tree species of tropical origin. Dry tropical forests are regionally most extensive in the upper Florida Keys, but are also represented on the mainland as fragments on limestone rocklands, and as “tree islands” embedded in the Everglades marsh. The exposed Everglades tree islands have a history of human use reaching back thousands of years, and are subject to frequent disturbance from tropical storms and hurricanes. They are sensitive to the hydrology of the surrounding marsh, which can lead to gradual changes in species composition or stand structure, or to the sudden loss of the woody component entirely, especially when low water tables are precursors to damaging fires. Tree islands serve as local hotspots of biodiversity, and as concentrators of phosphorus in a landscape defined by P-limitation. The mechanisms by which P reaches the tree islands and is sequestered there are complex and not completely understood, but may depend in part on transpiration and resupply of water from the adjacent wetlands. Since transpiration is a direct function of the transpiring leaf surface, which itself is expected to vary with stocking, we examined the relationship between leaf area index and stand density in 16 Everglades tree islands. To determine maximum stocking levels for such forests, we also calculated stand density for tropical forests throughout south Florida, using a protocol modified slightly from Woodard et al. 2003. Our results suggest that (1) stand density in many Everglades tree islands is well below the expressed potential of similar tropical assemblages, (2) low site occupancy may prevent such under-stocked forests from performing several ecosystem functions, and (3) stand density can serve as an effective metric of forest condition for management or restoration purposes.

 
Jun 23rd, 2:10 PM Jun 23rd, 2:30 PM

Stand Density in South Florida Tropical Forests: Implications for the Function and Management of Everglades Tree Islands

Within the continental US, the broadleaved forests of south Florida are exceptional in the abundance and diversity of tree species of tropical origin. Dry tropical forests are regionally most extensive in the upper Florida Keys, but are also represented on the mainland as fragments on limestone rocklands, and as “tree islands” embedded in the Everglades marsh. The exposed Everglades tree islands have a history of human use reaching back thousands of years, and are subject to frequent disturbance from tropical storms and hurricanes. They are sensitive to the hydrology of the surrounding marsh, which can lead to gradual changes in species composition or stand structure, or to the sudden loss of the woody component entirely, especially when low water tables are precursors to damaging fires. Tree islands serve as local hotspots of biodiversity, and as concentrators of phosphorus in a landscape defined by P-limitation. The mechanisms by which P reaches the tree islands and is sequestered there are complex and not completely understood, but may depend in part on transpiration and resupply of water from the adjacent wetlands. Since transpiration is a direct function of the transpiring leaf surface, which itself is expected to vary with stocking, we examined the relationship between leaf area index and stand density in 16 Everglades tree islands. To determine maximum stocking levels for such forests, we also calculated stand density for tropical forests throughout south Florida, using a protocol modified slightly from Woodard et al. 2003. Our results suggest that (1) stand density in many Everglades tree islands is well below the expressed potential of similar tropical assemblages, (2) low site occupancy may prevent such under-stocked forests from performing several ecosystem functions, and (3) stand density can serve as an effective metric of forest condition for management or restoration purposes.

http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/nafecology/sessions/sdi/2