Hurricane Disturbance, Plant & Animal Interactions, and the Reproductive Success of a Tropical Shrub - Pascarella - 1998 - Biotropica - Wiley Online Library

ABSTRACT

Hurricane disturbance may have strong effects on plant-animal interactions important in plant reproductive success. Arisia escallonioides (Myrsinaceae) were examined from 1991,Äì1994 in four southern Florida popula- tions. Hurricane Andrew struck three of the four populations on 24 August 1992. Hurricane Andrew delayed flowering for two months in 1992. In 1993 and 1994, the three hurricane,Äêdamaged populations had increased flowering and inflorescence production compared to 1991 and 1992, while the undamaged population had no flowering.

Hurricane disturbance had different effects on generalist versus specialist plant-animal interactions. A. scallonioides was similar before and after the hurricane, indicating little effect of the disturbance on this interaction. In contrast, populations of a specialist flower galling moth <(> (Periploca sp., Cosmopterigidae) declined in 1992 following Hurricane Andrew. Although moth populations increased at two of the three sites in 1993, the relative impact of moth predation on seed production was low due to extensive flower production. One moth population suffered local population extirpation for two years, reestablishing itself in November 1994. Hurricane disturbance resulted in a window of opportunity for massive seed production of Ardisia escallonioides in South Florida. Total seed production in 1993 increased twelve to seventy,Äêthree times the 1992 levels. Total seed production declined in 1994, but remained high compared to prehurricane levels.

SUMMARY

The disturbance caused by the hurricane had different effects on generalist versus specialized plant-animal interactions. The species composition and relative abundance of the generalist pollinator insect community was similar before and after the hurricane, indicating little effect of disturbance on this interaction. In contrast, populations of a specialist night-moth that causes gills in flowers (Periploca sp., Cosmopterigidae) fell in 1992 after Hurricane Andrew. Although night butterfly populations increased in two of the three populations during 1993, the relative impact of night butterflies on seed production was minimal because of the large flower production. In one population, the night moth was extinguished by two stems, only reappearing during 1994. The disturbance of the hurricane resulted in an opportunity for prodiction of Ardisia escallonioides seeds. Total seed production in 1993 increased twelve to seventy-three times 1992 levels. Total seed production declined in 1994, but was high compared to pre-hurricane levels.

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