Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

The impact of hurricane disturbances on a tropical forest: implementing a palm plant functional type and hurricane disturbance module in ED2-HuDi V1.0

Published Web Location
No data is associated with this publication.

Hurricanes commonly disturb and damage tropical forests. Hurricane frequency and intensity are predicted to change under the changing climate. The short-term impacts of hurricane disturbances to tropical forests have been widely studied, but the long-term impacts are rarely investigated. Modeling is critical to investigate the potential response of forests to future disturbances, particularly if the nature of the disturbances is changing with climate. Unfortunately, existing models of forest dynamics are not presently able to account for hurricane disturbances. Therefore, we implement the Hurricane Disturbance in the Ecosystem Demography model (ED2) (ED2-HuDi). The hurricane disturbance includes hurricane-induced immediate mortality and subsequent recovery modules. The parameterizations are based on observations at the Bisley Experimental Watersheds (BEW) in the Luquillo Experimental Forest in Puerto Rico. We add one new plant functional type (PFT) to the model - Palm, as palms cannot be categorized into one of the current existing PFTs and are known to be an abundant component of tropical forests worldwide. The model is calibrated with observations at BEW using the generalized likelihood uncertainty estimation (GLUE) approach. The optimal simulation obtained from GLUE has a mean relative error of -21 %, -12 %, and -15 % for stem density, basal area, and aboveground biomass, respectively. The optimal simulation also agrees well with the observation in terms of PFT composition (+1 %, -8 %, -2 %, and +9 % differences in the percentages of "Early", "Mid", "Late", and "Palm"PFTs, respectively) and size structure of the forest (+0.8 % differences in the percentage of large stems). Lastly, using the optimal parameter set, we study the impact of forest initial condition on the recovery of the forest from a single hurricane disturbance. The results indicate that, compared to a no-hurricane scenario, a single hurricane disturbance has little impact on forest structure (+1 % change in the percentage of large stems) and composition (<1 % change in the percentage of each of the four PFTs) but leads to 5 % higher aboveground biomass after 80 years of succession. The assumption of a less severe hurricane disturbance leads to a 4 % increase in aboveground biomass.

Item not freely available? Link broken?
Report a problem accessing this item