Edgardo I. Garrido-Perez, Gerhard Gerold, Mario Ucan-May:
Hurricane Wilma: When Lianas Protect Trees


1Institute of Geography, Goettingen University, Landscape Ecology, Germany
2Independent Contractor, Ejido Solferino, Quintana Roo, Mexico

It has been proposed that global change increases hurricane's frequency and liana abundance; and that lianas pull and break trees. Indeed, trees hosting live lianas should have a higher probability to be broken during hurricanes. We tested this when Hurricane Wilma stroke North Eastern Yucatan Peninsula (October 2005). There we have 6 pairs of 400m2 forest plots. We marked and identified all trees 14#143,16cm dbh and lianas 14#141cm diameter at ground level. Before the hurricane we cut the lianas in one plot of each pair. We located: three, two and one pair of plots in the 14#1455yr, 18yr, and 10yr-old stands respectively. For the 14#1455yr-old stands, the % of snapped"=trunk trees was smaller in the liana"=cut (4%, SD=0,21), than in uncut plots (7%, SD=2,17), suggesting that lianas ``helped'' the hurricane to snap trees. For the 18yr"=old stand, the hurricane snapped more trunks in the liana"=cut plots (averages: liana"=cut=8%; liana"=uncut=1,3% snapped trees), suggesting that lianas avoided tree"=snapping. The same occurred in the 10yr"=old stand (liana"=cut=9%; liana"=uncut=2,7% snapped"=trees). Liana"=cutting did not change the % of other damage types. For example, in the 14#1455yr"=old stands, the % of trees having only large branches remaining were: Liana"=cut=0,8% (SD=1,3), and liana"=uncut= 1,3% (SD=2,2). Dominant lianas were: Cydista spp and Arrabidaea spp (both soft"=bodied Bignoniaceae, in the 14#1455yr"=old stands), and Dalbergia glabra (heavy"=bodied Papilionoidae, in both, 18- and 10yr"=old stands). We suggest D. glabra individuals functioned as ``fixing"=cables'' avoiding snapping. Results suggest that liana"=cutting before logging may be not"=necessary and can be structurally detrimental in secondary forests in hurricane areas.

Keywords: Hurricanes, Liana-cut, Mexico, tree-snapping


Contact Address: Edgardo I. Garrido-Perez, Institute of Geography, Goettingen University, Landscape EcologyGoldschmidtstr.5, 37077 Goettingen, Germany, e-mail: egarrid@gwdg.de
Andreas Deininger, September 2006