Long term effect of hurrican disturbance and recovery based on vegetation coverage, biomass and productivity estimates of the Turneffe mangrove forest in Belize

Chi, Faustino (2003) Long term effect of hurrican disturbance and recovery based on vegetation coverage, biomass and productivity estimates of the Turneffe mangrove forest in Belize. Other thesis, University of Bremen.

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    In October 1961, Hurricane Hattie, a Category 5 hurricane (Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale), hit the Belizean coastal area. The eye of Hurricane Hattie passed directly over Turneffe Atoll. This storm destroyed entire islands as well as most of the vegetation and human habitation in a 40-km wide swath across Turneffe. To examine long-term recovery from hurricane damage, I established permanent plots at three sites at Turneffe, which fell within the zone of catastrophic disturbance and suffered the most intense storm damage. For comparison, I established additional plots at East Snake Cay (ESC), a mangrove island approximately 100 km to the south, which was well outside the zone of catastrophic disturbance during Hattie and received minimal damage. Forty years after the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Hattie, recovery of aboveground biomass at Turneffe is much lower when compared to ESC. Vegetation coverage estimates for Turneffe show that the three sites, Soldier Cay (SC), Big Calabash Cay (BCC), and Dead Man Cay V (DMCV) have Rhizophora mangle, Avicennia germinans, and Laguncularia racemosa, and the mangrove associate Conocarpus erectus. This is also true for the ESC site. Rhizophora mangle was the dominant specie in all sites regardless of the level of structural complexity. Estimates from aerial photographs of SC, BCC, and DMCV show that R. mangle covered approximately 38, 57, and 46%, respectively, of the total cay area. The Turneffe sites that experienced severe erosion following Hurricane Hattie have recovered most of the cay substrate. SC and DMCV have increased in size from their pre-hurricane dimensions whilst, ESC has decreased in size due to erosion. Estimates from the present study show that SC, BCC, and DMCV have accumulated an aboveground biomass of 8.64, 10.33, and 5.44 kg . m-2 , respectively, in the 40 yrs since Hurricane Hattie. These values are very low when compared to ESC where current aboveground biomass was estimated at 32.04 kg . m-2. Litter fall estimates are available for the Turneffe sites only. Values extrapolated from the five months sampling period (October -02 to February -03), for mean yearly production shows that BCC had the highest litter fall rates (936.95 g . m-2 yr-1 ), followed by SC (824.43 g . m-2 yr-1) and DMCV (705.2 g . m-2 yr-1). A significant amount of bird guano amongst the litter fall was found in two of the three sites (SC and BCC), which is believed to be seasonal since input was highest for the month of October and coincided with the fruiting season of cay forest from the larger neighboring islands.

    Item Type: Thesis (Other)
    Related URLs:
      Subjects: (C) Ecosystems > (CB) Marine > (CBE) Mangroves
      Publication Sources: (3) Other Source > (3D) Other or Unspecified
      Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2013 15:10
      Last Modified: 22 Jan 2013 15:10
      URI: http://eprints.uberibz.org/id/eprint/1353

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