Effects of hurricanes and climate oscillations on annual variation in reproduction in wet forest, Puerto Rico

TitleEffects of hurricanes and climate oscillations on annual variation in reproduction in wet forest, Puerto Rico
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsZimmerman, JK, Hogan, JA, Nytch, CJ, Bithorn, J
KeywordsEl Niño Southern Oscillation, Luquillo experimental forest, North Atlantic Oscillation, phenology, Puerto Rico, Time series analysis
AbstractInterannual changes in global climate and weather disturbances may influence reproduction in tropical forests. Phenomena such as the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) are known to produce interannual variation in reproduction, as do severe storms such as hurricanes. Using stationary trap‐based phenology data collected fortnightly from 1993 to 2014 from a hurricane‐affected (1989 Hugo, 1998 Georges) subtropical wet forest in northeastern Puerto Rico, we conducted a time series analysis of flowering and seed production. We addressed (1) the degree to which interannual variation in flower and seed production was influenced by global climate drivers and time since hurricane disturbance, and (2) how long‐term trends in reproduction varied with plant lifeform. The seasonally de‐trended number of species in flower fluctuated over time while the number of species producing seed exhibited a declining trend, one that was particularly evident during the second half of the study period. Lagged El Niño indices and time series hurricane disturbance jointly influenced the trends in numbers of flowering and fruiting species, suggesting complex global influences on tropical forest reproduction with variable periodicities. Lag times affecting flowering tended to be longer than those affecting fruiting. Long‐term patterns of reproduction in individual lifeforms paralleled the community‐wide patterns, with most groups of lifeform exhibiting a long‐term decline in seed but not flower production. Exceptions were found for hemiepiphytes, small trees, and lianas whose seed reproduction increased and then declined over time. There was no long‐term increase in flower production as reported in other Neotropical sites.