Title

Plant Responses to Disturbance and Drought in a Mexican Tropical Deciduous Forest

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Campus where you would like to present

Ellensburg

Event Website

https://digitalcommons.cwu.edu/source

Start Date

18-5-2020

Abstract

Tropical deciduous forests show strong seasonality in rainfall with a pronounced dry season extending 6 to 8 months; they are also among earth’s most endangered terrestrial ecosystems. This study took place in a tropical deciduous forest of coastal Jalisco, Mexico within Estación de Biología Chamela (EBCh). In October 2015, our study site was struck by Patricia, a category 5 hurricane which drastically altered the structure of the forest. I investigated the potential effects of this disturbance to epiphytes in the genus Tillandsia, both inside and outside the forest. I compared photosynthetic activity of Tillandsia rothii and T. intermedia between open, edge habitats (like those created from the disturbance of the hurricane) and more closed, forested habitats. I also explored how several common tree species respond to the strong seasonal drought in the forest. I worked with researchers from EBCh to measure growth rates under normal (control) and drought conditions in six different tree species trees found in the tropical deciduous forest. For epiphytes, I found no significant differences in photosynthetic rates between forest and edge habitats. We might expect different results in areas with greater human disturbance. Tropical dry forest trees showed considerable variation in their response to drought. Cedro (Cedrela odorata) and Kapok (Ceiba pentandra) had the most notable drop in growth rates under the drought treatment. Ficus sp. and Guaiacum coulteri showed relatively little response. Trees that were more strongly affected by drought were those which seemed to thrive better in areas with a nearby water source.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Daniel Beck

Department/Program

Biological Sciences

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May 18th, 12:00 PM

Plant Responses to Disturbance and Drought in a Mexican Tropical Deciduous Forest

Ellensburg

Tropical deciduous forests show strong seasonality in rainfall with a pronounced dry season extending 6 to 8 months; they are also among earth’s most endangered terrestrial ecosystems. This study took place in a tropical deciduous forest of coastal Jalisco, Mexico within Estación de Biología Chamela (EBCh). In October 2015, our study site was struck by Patricia, a category 5 hurricane which drastically altered the structure of the forest. I investigated the potential effects of this disturbance to epiphytes in the genus Tillandsia, both inside and outside the forest. I compared photosynthetic activity of Tillandsia rothii and T. intermedia between open, edge habitats (like those created from the disturbance of the hurricane) and more closed, forested habitats. I also explored how several common tree species respond to the strong seasonal drought in the forest. I worked with researchers from EBCh to measure growth rates under normal (control) and drought conditions in six different tree species trees found in the tropical deciduous forest. For epiphytes, I found no significant differences in photosynthetic rates between forest and edge habitats. We might expect different results in areas with greater human disturbance. Tropical dry forest trees showed considerable variation in their response to drought. Cedro (Cedrela odorata) and Kapok (Ceiba pentandra) had the most notable drop in growth rates under the drought treatment. Ficus sp. and Guaiacum coulteri showed relatively little response. Trees that were more strongly affected by drought were those which seemed to thrive better in areas with a nearby water source.

https://digitalcommons.cwu.edu/source/2020/COTS/9