A review of spatial aspects of forest damage and recovery on the South Carolina coast following hurricane Hugo


Southern US coastal forests are subject to damage by major Atlantic Hurricanes at a frequency that influences forest succession. Forest species may be: a) resistant: unchanged in mortality and growth; b) susceptible: increase in mortality and decrease in growth, and c) resilient: increase in mortality but increase in abundance and growth, or d) usurper: absent prior to disturbance and increase abundance and growth afterwards. Although there is a wide literature on resistance of temperate species found in the southern US to hurricane wind and salt damage, long-term ecological implications are poorly understood outside of the tropics. Hurricane Hugo struck the South Carolina Coast with an estimated wind speed of 60 m/s. Due to the relatively fast forward movement of the storm, high wind speed and severe forest damage extended nearly 100 km into the state. In depth studies of immediate damage were reported for four sites and seven forest types. Species resistance to hurricane damage was found to be similar to that reported after other major hurricanes (Camille, Katrina, and Rita) although mortality percentages were influenced by position in the wind field. Susceptible species were highly dependent on position (wind speed) and proximity to the ocean (salt water in storm surge). Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) and sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua),varied between resilient and usurper roles in response to mortality percentage of susceptible species.

  • Citation: Williams, Thomas M.; Song, Bo; Trettin, Carl C.; Gresham, Charles A. 2013. A review of spatial aspects of forest damage and recovery on the South Carolina coast following hurricane Hugo. Journal of Geography & Natural Disasters. 3(2): 110 doi: 10.4172/2167-0587.1000110

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