Impacts of increasing typhoons on the structure and function of a subtropical forest: Reflections of a changing climate

Kuo Chuan Lin, Steven P. Hamburg, Lixin Wang, Chin Tzer Duh, Chu Mei Huang, Chung Te Chang, Teng Chiu Lin

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Due to their destructive and sporadic nature, it is often difficult to evaluate and predict the effects of typhoon on forest ecosystem patterns and processes. We used a 21-yr record of litterfall rates to explore the influence of typhoon frequency and intensity, along with other meteorological variables, on ecosystem dynamics in a subtropical rainforest. Over the past half century there has been an increasing frequency of strong typhoons (category 3; >49.6 m s-1; increase of 1.5 typhoons/decade) impacting the Fushan Experimental Forest, Taiwan. At Fushan strong typhoons drive total litterfall mass with an average of 1100 kg ha-1 litterfall typhoon-1. While mean typhoon season litterfall has been observed to vary by an order of magnitude, mean litterfall rates associated with annual leaf senescence vary by <20%. In response to increasing typhoon frequency, total annual litter mass increased gradually over the 21-year record following three major typhoons in 1994. Monthly maximum wind speed was predictive of monthly litterfall, yet the influence of precipitation and temperature was only evident in non-typhoon affected months. The response of this subtropical forest to strong typhoons suggests that increasing typhoon frequency has already shifted ecosystem structure and function (declining carbon sequestration and forest stature).

Original languageEnglish
Article number4911
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 1


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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