The effect of Hurricane Michael on the structure and function of longleaf pine woodlands

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dc.contributor Staudhammer, Christina L.
dc.contributor Brantley, Steven
dc.contributor.advisor Starr, Gregory Kenney, Gavin Ross 2021-07-07T14:37:13Z 2021-07-07T14:37:13Z 2021
dc.identifier.other u0015_0000001_0003835
dc.identifier.other Kenney_alatus_0004M_14475
dc.description Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
dc.description.abstract Hurricanes are increasing in intensity due to climate change and can physically alter ecosystems, causing immediate and potentially long-lasting effects on carbon dynamics. On October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael hit the southeastern United States with category 2 winds reaching over 100 miles inland, resulting in extensive damage. The longleaf pine ecosystems of this region have long been recognized for their high biodiversity, and initiatives have targeted the preservation and restoration of remnant stands. Multiple longleaf pine woodlands of the region were damaged during Hurricane Michael, but the severity of damage varied based on their structure. Climate change-induced disturbances, like hurricanes, could permanently alter forest structure, limit carbon sequestration, and further threaten survival. In this study we used a combination of eddy covariance measurements, airborne LiDAR and ground-level forest inventory data to determine how the hurricane affected the structure, function and recovery of two longleaf pine woodlands at the ends of an edaphic gradient. We hypothesized that the xeric site’s ecological memory which developed due to long-term water stress would contribute to the site experiencing less structural damage and alteration to carbon dynamics and would recover more quickly than the mesic site. Eddy covariance data revealed that both carbon budgets were diminished following the storm, but the xeric site saw smaller losses over the course of the study. Light response curves revealed signs of recovery for the xeric site before the mesic site as indicated by maximum ecosystem CO2 uptake rates. Two years following the hurricane both locations continued to have reduced net ecosystem exchange (NEE). We determined that long-term reductions in NEE were due to lower rates of photosynthesis, as respiration was not significantly affected by Hurricane Michael; short-term respiration pulses were observed immediately after the storm but decreased by the next Spring. It is notable that the carbon dynamics at both sites remain changed two years post-storm, which may signal altered function. We expect both locations to recover their lost carbon stocks in ~10 to 35 years; however long-term studies and continued monitoring are needed to examine how longleaf woodlands respond to severe disturbance, which may vary significantly across its distributional range.
dc.format.extent 63 p.
dc.format.medium electronic
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language English
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.publisher University of Alabama Libraries
dc.relation.ispartof The University of Alabama Electronic Theses and Dissertations
dc.relation.ispartof The University of Alabama Libraries Digital Collections
dc.relation.hasversion born digital
dc.rights All rights reserved by the author unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subject.other Biogeochemistry
dc.subject.other Environmental science
dc.title The effect of Hurricane Michael on the structure and function of longleaf pine woodlands
dc.type thesis
dc.type text University of Alabama. Department of Biological Sciences Biological Sciences The University of Alabama master's M.S.

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