Departmental Papers (EES)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

February 1992


Hurricane Hugo of September 1989 caused severe damage to the rain forest in the north-east corner of Puerto Rico. We assessed the severity of damage distributed in space, species, and size-classes of trees in the Bisley Watersheds of the Luquillo Experimental Forest. We analyzed pre- and post-hurricane data for vegetation from transects established in 1987 and 1988. The severity of damage was significantly greater in valleys than on ridges and slopes. All the species except Dacryodes excelsa, Sloanea berteriana, and Guarea guidonia showed 100% severe damage. Large trees (> 70 cm DBH) were highly susceptible to hurricane damage, but there was no clear pattern in the small size-classes. D. excelsa (tabonuco) was the most resistant to damage by the hurricane. Tabonuco which has extensive root-grafts and root anchorage to bedrock and subsurficial rocks, apparently can survive frequent hurricanes and continue as a dominant species in this montane tropical rain forest. The high frequency of hurricanes, which can override other ecological and topographic factors, may largely determine the overall spatial pattern of species in this rain forest.


Copyright Cambridge University Press. Reprinted from Journal of Tropical Ecology, Volume 8, Number 1, February 1992, pages 47-55.

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.



Date Posted: 30 September 2005

This document has been peer reviewed.