Recovery of a Mixed-Species Mangrove Forest in South Florida Following Canopy Removal
Keywords:Canopy closure, light transmission, zonation, species mortality and recovery, reserve meristem
In October 1982, the upper structure and canopy of a 0.09 ha area of mixed species mangrove forest (654 trees) in southeast Florida was removed by tree trimmers. This represented a reduction in mean forest height from 7.1 to 4.8 m. In February 1983, recovery studies were initiated based in part on comparisons with a contiguous untouched mangrove forest. Of some 148 tall Rhizophora mangle trees with an original mean height of 9.0 m, 110 (74%) died within 3 years. Mortality of R. mangle was highest among tall single-boled trees with a concentration of foliage above 4.8 m. All individuals of Avicennia gerrninans and Laguncularia racemosa recovered quickly by releafing, coppicing, and initiating trunk sprouts. Based on comparative light transmission measurements, the time estimated for forest canopy reclosure was 50 months although it varied from 72 to 118 months in the R. mangle zone, to < 1 to 24 months in the zone dominated by L. racemosa.