Changes in the distribution of mechanically dependent plants along a gradient of past hurricane impact

Using rope climbing techniques, Dr Batke is assessing storm damage and the distribution of mechanically dependent plants on +45 m tall trees in Cusuco National Park, Honduras. Picture taken by Mr. Nick Hill.
Using rope climbing techniques, Dr Batke is assessing storm damage and the distribution of mechanically dependent plants on +45 m tall trees in Cusuco National Park, Honduras. Picture taken by Mr. Nick Hill.

The severity of the effects that large disturbance events such as hurricanes can have on the forest canopy and the associated mechanically dependent plant community (epiphytes, climbers, etc.) is dependent on the frequency and intensity of the disturbance events. In a new study published in AoB PLANTS, Batke and Kelly examined the distribution and composition of mechanically dependent plants on +45 m tall forest canopy trees in Honduras, and found that their diversity was significantly decreased on sites that had been more impacted by hurricanes. It was also found that the degree of their response varied at different scales (i.e. the plot, tree and branch level). These results are of great importance to understand the imminent and past impacts of hurricane storms on canopy communities in hurricane prone regions.