Guam experiences more tropical cyclones than any other state or territory in the United States. These cyclones--called typhoons in the western Pacific Ocean--can be devastating to Guam's dense native forests.
The 300+ species of cycads comprise the most threatened group of plants studied to date. Guam's Cycas micronesica is being endangered by recent alien insect invasions.
Credit: Photo by Thomas Marler
The impact of large-scale tropical cyclones affects the health of managed and unmanaged forests, urban landscapes, and perennial horticulture plantings for many years after the actual storm. In fact, the island's forests are often called 'typhoon forests' because their health and appearance is inextricably defined by the most recent typhoons.
As recently as 2002, Cycas micronesica was the most abundant tree species in Guam. The species is recognized for its innate ability to recover from damage after a tropical cyclone. Resprouting on snapped tree trunks, or "direct regeneration", enabled C. micronesica to sustain its status as the most abundant tree in Guam through 2002. Although native tree species like C. micronesica possess traits that enable them to recover from tropical cyclone damage, invasive pests and other environmental challenges are compromising the species' resiliency.
Thomas Marler from the College of Natural and Applied Sciences at the University of Guam, and John Lawrence from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service reported on a large-scale study of Cycas micronesica in HortScience. The team compared the impact of two tropical cyclones--Typhoon Chaba in 2004, and Typhoon Paka in 1997--on the resilience and health of Cycas micronesica. They noticed that the proportion of trees exhibiting "mechanical failure" during Typhoon Chaba--in which peak wind speeds were less than half of those in Typhoon Paka--surpassed the damage documented during the more powerful Typhoon Paka. "We set out to determine how a tropical cyclone with moderate wind speeds could impose greater mechanical damage to a highly resistant tree species than a more powerful event only 7 years earlier," explained Marler.
Marler and Lawrence discovered that although Typhoon Paka compromised the ability of the C. micronesica canopy to avoid wind drag, it was alien invasions following Typhoon Paka that virtually eliminated C. micronesica's resilience to tropical cyclone damage. The data showed that stem decay caused by earlier damage from a native stem borer reduced the species' tolerance to external forces, resulting in stem failure in Typhoon Chaba. Invasions of two invasive insects (Aulacaspis yasumatsui in 2003 and Chilades pandava in 2005) were found to be responsible for the 100% mortality of the intact portions of the trees' snapped stems during the 5 years after Typhoon Chaba.
"A span of less than one decade allowed two alien invasions to eliminate the incipient resilience of a native tree species to tropical cyclone damage," the authors wrote. "This study underscores the fact that many years of observations after tropical cyclones are required to accurately determine [trees'] resilience."
The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortScience electronic journal web site: http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/48/10/1224.full
Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education, and application.
Mike W. Neff | EurekAlert!
Marine vessel tracking system also a lifesaver for wildlife
12.02.2016 | Wildlife Conservation Society
Stability in ecosystems: Asynchrony of species is more important than diversity
12.02.2016 | Technische Universität München
Today, plants and microorganisms are heavily used for the production of medicinal products. The production of biopharmaceuticals in plants, also referred to as “Molecular Pharming”, represents a continuously growing field of plant biotechnology. Preferred host organisms include yeast and crop plants, such as maize and potato – plants with high demands. With the help of a special algal strain, the research team of Prof. Ralph Bock at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam strives to develop a more efficient and resource-saving system for the production of medicines and vaccines. They tested its practicality by synthesizing a component of a potential AIDS vaccine.
The use of plants and microorganisms to produce pharmaceuticals is nothing new. In 1982, bacteria were genetically modified to produce human insulin, a drug...
Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock which attains an accuracy which had only been predicted theoretically so far. Their optical ytterbium clock achieved a relative systematic measurement uncertainty of 3 E-18. The results have been published in the current issue of the scientific journal "Physical Review Letters".
Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock...
The University of Würzburg has two new space projects in the pipeline which are concerned with the observation of planets and autonomous fault correction aboard satellites. The German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy funds the projects with around 1.6 million euros.
Detecting tornadoes that sweep across Mars. Discovering meteors that fall to Earth. Investigating strange lightning that flashes from Earth's atmosphere into...
Physicists from Saarland University and the ESPCI in Paris have shown how liquids on solid surfaces can be made to slide over the surface a bit like a bobsleigh on ice. The key is to apply a coating at the boundary between the liquid and the surface that induces the liquid to slip. This results in an increase in the average flow velocity of the liquid and its throughput. This was demonstrated by studying the behaviour of droplets on surfaces with different coatings as they evolved into the equilibrium state. The results could prove useful in optimizing industrial processes, such as the extrusion of plastics.
The study has been published in the respected academic journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America).
Exceeding critical temperature limits in the Southern Ocean may cause the collapse of ice sheets and a sharp rise in sea levels
A future warming of the Southern Ocean caused by rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere may severely disrupt the stability of the West...
12.02.2016 | Event News
09.02.2016 | Event News
02.02.2016 | Event News
12.02.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
12.02.2016 | Life Sciences
12.02.2016 | Medical Engineering