Departmental Papers (EES)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

December 2001


A common premise in modern forest management is that land management should operate over large enough spatial and temporal scales that common natural disturbances are present and implicitly considered. Less emphasis has been focused on managing humid tropical forest ecosystems with the periodic ecological processes that occur between disturbances. The central premise of this paper is that timing management activities to periodic ecological processes that occur between disturbances is an additional prerequisite for the effective management of humid tropical forests. Ecological rhythms are defined here as biological or biogeochemical processes that have definable periodicities and include phenological, circadian, biogeochemical, and behavioral processes. The paper documents the use of ecological rhythms in the management of endangered species and water resources in the Caribbean National Forest of Northeastern Puerto Rico. While this type of dynamic management has proven benefits, managers and regulatory agencies have been hesitant to utilize complex, ecologically based dynamic management schedules because they can be difficult to monitor and regulate. Fortunately, recent technological advantages greatly increase the ability to conduct complex real-time, spatially explicit management. Identifying important ecological rhythms and developing administrative structures that can integrate them into management will be a major challenge in both tropical and temperate environments in the coming decades.


Postprint version. Published in Forest Ecology and Management, Volume 154, Issue 3, 2001, pages 453-464.
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NOTE: At the time of publication, author Frederick N. Scatena was affiliated with the USDA Forest Service. Currently (September 2005) he is a faculty member in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania.


Tropical forest management, Municipal water supply, Endangered species



Date Posted: 21 September 2005

This document has been peer reviewed.