Skip to main content Accessibility help

Changes in light below the canopy of a Jamaican montane rainforest after a hurricane

  • P. J. Bellingham (a1), E. V. J. Tanner (a1), P. M. Rich (a2) and T. C. R. Goodland (a3)


Hurricane Gilbert caused disturbance to Jamaican montane rainforests in 1988. This study provides a detailed characterization of landscape-level changes in light below the canopy of these forests after the hurricane. Hemispherical photographs were taken below the forest canopy at four sites at permanent points 1 m above the ground between 7 and 33 mo after the hurricane. For each photograph photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) was computed. PAR declined exponentially in all sites during the period of measurement. During the first 24 mo after the hurricane, PAR beneath the canopy was significantly greater in sites that had been defoliated during the hurricane than in sites where few trees had been defoliated. By 28 mo after the hurricane there was no significant difference in PAR beneath the canopy among the four sites. By 33 mo after the hurricane canopy recovery was nearly complete and PAR was only slightly higher than measurements made before the hurricane. Our results were compared with studies of changes in light environment resulting from treefall gaps and under deciduous canopies. PAR during the first 18 mo after the hurricane was similar to that recorded in small canopy gaps in other forests. Widespread defoliation caused by hurricanes can thus increase PAR beneath the canopy over large areas and consequently opportunities may arise for widespread recruitment of tree species in response to increased light levels.



Hide All
Anderson, M. C. 1964a. Studies of the woodland light climate. I. The photographic computation of light conditions. Journal of Ecology 52:2741.
Anderson, M. C. 1964b. Studies of the woodland light climate. II. Seasonal variation in the light climate. Journal of Ecology 52:643663.
Ashton, P. M. S. 1992. Some measurements of the microclimate within a Sri Lankan tropical rainforest. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 59:217235.
Aylett, G. P. 1985. Irradiance interception, leaf conductance and photosynthesis in Jamaican upper montane rain forest trees. Photosynthetica 19:323327.
Baldocchi, D., Hutchison, B., Matt, D. & McMillen, R. 1984. Seasonal variations in the radiation regime within an oak-hickory forest. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 33:177191.
Barton, A. M., Fetcher, N. & Redhead, S. 1989. The relationship between treefall gap size and light flux in a neotropical rain forest in Costa Rica. Journal of Tropical Ecology 5:437439.
Beard, J. S. 1944. Climax vegetation in tropical America. Ecology 25:127158.
Becker, P., Erhart, D. W. & Smith, A. P. 1989. Analysis of forest light environments. Part I. Computerized estimation of solar radiation from hemispherical canopy photographs. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 44:217232.
Bellingham, P. J. 1991. Landforms influence patterns of hurriscane damage: evidence from Jamaican montane forests. Biotropica 23:427433.
Bellingham, P. J. 1993. The effects of a hurricane on Jamaican montane rain forests. Unpublished PhD Dissertation, University of Cambridge, UK.
Bellingham, P. J., Kapos, V., Varty, N., Healey, J. R., Tanner, E. V. J., Kelly, D. L., Dalling, J. W., Burns, L. S., Lee, D. & Sidrak, G. 1992. Hurricanes need not cause high mortality: the effects of Hurricane Gilbert on forests in Jamaica. Journal of Tropical Ecology 8:217223.
Bellingham, P. J., Tanner, E. V. J. & Healey, J. R. 1994. Sprouting of trees in Jamaican montane forests, after a hurricane. Journal of Ecology 82:747758.
Bellingham, P. J., Tanner, E. V. J. & Healey, J. R. 1995. Damage and responsiveness of Jamaican montane tree species after disturbance by a hurricane. Ecology 76:25622580.
Borhidi, A. 1991. Phytogtography and vegetation ecology of Cuba. Akadémiai Kaidó, Budapest, Hungary.
Brokaw, N. V. L. & Grear, J. S. 1991. Forest structure before and after Hurricane Hugo at three elevations in the Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico. Biotropica 23:386392.
Brokaw, N. V. L. & Walker, L. R. 1991. Summary of the effects of Caribbean hurricanes on vegetation. Biotropica 23:442447.
Brown, N. D. & Whitmore, T. C. 1992. Do dipterocarp seedlings really partition tropical rain forest gaps? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 335:369378.
Canham, C. D. 1988. An index for understory light levels in and around canopy gaps. Ecology 69:16341638.
Canham, C. D., Denslow, J. S., Platt, W. J., Runkle, J. R., Spies, T. A. & White, P. S. 1990. Light regimes beneath closed canopies and tree-fall gaps in temperate and tropical forests. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 20:620631.
Chazdon, R. L. 1988. Sunflecks and their importance to forest understorey plants. Advances in Ecological Research 8:163.
Chazdon, R. F. & Fetcher, N. 1984. Photosynthetic light environments in a lowland tropical rain forest in Costa Rica. Journal of Ecology 72:553564.
Chazdon, R. L. & Field, C. B. 1987. Photographic estimation of photosynthetically active radiation: evaluation of a computerized technique. Oecologia 73:525532.
Chazdon, R. L., Williams, K. & Field, C. B. 1988. Interactions between crown structure and light environment in five rain forest Piper species. American Journal of Botany 75:14591471.
Clark, D. B., Clark, D. A. & Rich, P. M. 1993. Comparative analysis of microhabitat utilization by saplings of nine tree species in neotropical rain forest. Biotropica 25:397407.
Crow, T. R. 1980. A rainforest chronicle: a 30-year record of change in structure and composition at El Verde, Puerto Rico. Biotropica 12:4255.
Dalling, J. W. 1992. Regeneration on landslides in the Blue Mountains, Jamaica. Unpublished PhD Dissertation, University of Cambridge, UK.
Denslow, J. S., Schultz, J. C., Vitousek, P. M. & Strain, B. R. 1990. Growth responses of tropical shrubs to treefall gap environments. Ecology 71:165179.
Evans, G. C. & Coombe, D. E. 1959. Hemispherical and woodland canopy photography and the light climate. Journal of Ecology 47:103113.
Evans, G. C., Whitmore, T. C. & Wong, Y. K. 1960. The distribution of light reaching the ground vegetation in a tropical rain forest. Journal of Ecology 48:193204.
Fernández, D. S. & Fetcher, N. 1991. Changes in light availability following Hurricane Hugo in a subtropical montane forest in Puerto Rico. Biotropica 23:393399.
Grubb, P. J. & Tanner, E. V. J. 1976. The montane forests and soils of Jamaica: reassessment. Journal of the Arnold Arboretum 57:313368.
Grubb, P. J. & Whitmore, T. C. 1966. A comparison of montane and lowland rain forest in Ecuador. II. The climate and its effects on the distribution and physiognomy of the forests. Journal of Ecology 54:303333.
Guzmán-Grajales, S. M. & Walker, L. R. 1991. Differential seedling responses to litter after Hurricane Hugo in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico. Biotropica 23:407413.
Hartshorn, G. S. 1978. Treefalls and tropical forest dynamics. Pp. 617628 in Tomlinson, P. B. & Zimmerman, M. H. (eds). Tropical trees as living systems. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
Healey, J. R. 1990. Regeneration in a Jamaican montane tropical rain forest. Unpublished PhD Dissertation, University of Cambridge, UK.
Hutchison, B. A. & Matt, D. R. 1977. The distribution of solar radiation within a deciduous forest. Ecological Monographs 47:185207.
Kapos, V. & Tanner, E. V. J. 1985. Water relations of Jamaican upper montane rain forest trees. Ecology 66:241250.
Lawrence, M. B. & Gross, J. W. 1989. Atlantic hurricane season of 1988. Monthly Weather Review 117:22482259.
Lawton, R. O. 1990. Canopy gaps and light penetration into a wind-exposed tropical lower montane rain forest. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 20:659667.
Lerdau, M. T., Holbrook, N. M., Mooney, H. A., Rich, P. M. & Whitbeck, J. L. 1992. Seasonal patterns of acid fluctuations and resource storage in the arborescent cactus Opuntia excelsa in relation to light availability and size. Oecologia 92:166172.
Levin, S. A. & Paine, R. T. 1974. Disturbance, patch formation and community structure. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 71:27442747.
Lugo, A. E., Applefield, M., Pool, D. J. & McDonald, R. B. 1983. The impact of Hurricane David on the forests of Dominica. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 13:201211.
Lugo, A. E. & Rivera Batlle, C. T. 1987. Leaf production, growth rate, and age of the palm Prestoea montana in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico. Journal of Tropical Ecology 3:151161.
McCree, K. J. 1981. Photosynthetically active radiation. Pp. 4455 in Lange, O. L., Nobel, P. S., Osmond, C. B. & Ziegler, H. (eds). Physiological plant ecology. I. Responses to the physical environment (Encyclopaedia of Plant Physiology, 12a). Springer, New York, USA
Mitchell, P. L. & Whitmore, T. C. 1993. Use of hemispherical photographs in forest ecology. Oxford Forestry Institute Occasional Paper No. 44, Oxford, UK.
Pearcy, R. W. 1983. The light environment and growth of C3 and C4 tree species in the understory of a Hawaiian forest. Oecologia 58:1925.
Pope, D. J. & Lloyd, P. S. 1975. Hemispherical photography, topography and plant distribution. Pp. 385408 in Evans, G. C., Bainbridge, R. & Rackham, O. (eds). Light as an ecological factor: II. Blackwell Scientific Publications Limited, Oxford, UK.
Popma, J., Bongers, F., Martínez-Ramos, M. & Veneklaas, E. 1988. Pioneer species distribution in treefall gaps in Neotropical rain forest: a gap definition and its consequences. Journal of Tropical Ecology 4:7788.
Rich, P. M. 1989. A manual for analysis of hemispherical canopy photography. LA-11733-M. Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico 87545, USA.
Rich, P. M. 1990. Characterizing plant canopies with hemispherical photographs. Remote Sensing Reviews 5:1329.
Rich, P. M., Clark, D. B., Clark, D. A. & Oberbauer, S. F. 1993. Long-term study of solar radiation regimes in a tropical wet forest using quantum sensors and hemispherical photography. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 65:107127.
Shreve, F. 1914. A montane rain-forest. A contribution to the physiological plant geography of Jamaica. Publication No. 199. Carnegie Institute of Washington, Washington, DC.
Smith, A. P., Hogan, K. P. & Idol, J. R. 1992. Spatial and temporal patterns of light and canopy structure in a lowland tropical moist forest. Biotropica 24:503511.
Sugden, A. M., Tanner, E. V. J. & Kapos, V. 1985. Regeneration following clearing in a Jamaican montane forest: results of a ten-year study. Journal of Tropical Ecology 1:329351.
Swaine, M. D. & Whitmore, T. C. 1988. On the definition of ecological species groups in tropical rain forests. Vegetatio 75:8186.
Tanner, E. V. J. 1977. Four montane rain forests of Jamaica: a quantitative characterization of the floristics, the soils and the foliar mineral levels, and a discussion of the interrelations. Journal of Ecology 65:883918.
Tanner, E. V. J. 1980. Studies of the biomass and productivity in a series of montane rain forests in Jamaica. Journal of Ecology 68:573588.
Tanner, E. V. J. 1985. Jamaican montane forests: nutrient capital and cost of growth. Journal of Ecology 73:553568.
Tanner, E. V. J. & Kapos, V. 1982. Leaf structure of Jamaican upper montane rain-forest trees. Biotropica 14:1624.
Tanner, E. V. J., Kapos, V., Freskos, S., Healey, J. R. & Theobald, A. M. 1990. Nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization of Jamaican montane forest trees. Journal of Tropical Ecology 6:231238.
Tanner, E. V. J., Kapos, V. & Healey, J. R. 1991. Hurricane effects on forest ecosystems in the Caribbean. Biotropica 23:513521.
Torquebiau, E. F. 1988. Photosynthetically active radiation environment, patch dynamics and architecture in a tropical rainforest in Sumatra. Australian Journal of Plant Physiology 15:327342.
Turner, I. M. 1990. Tree seedling growth and survival in a Malaysian rain forest. Biotropica 22:146154.
Turton, S. M. 1990. Light environments within montane tropical rainforest, Mt Bellenden Ker, North Queensland. Australian Journal of Ecology 15:3542.
Turton, S. M. 1992. Understorey light environments in a north-east Australian rain forest before and after a tropical cyclone. Journal of Tropical Ecology 8:241252.
Uhl, C., Clark, K., Dezzeo, N. & Maquirino, P. 1988. Vegetation dynamics in Amazonian treefall gaps. Ecology 69:751763.
Walker, L. R., Voltzow, J., Ackerman, J. D., Fernández, D. S. & Fetcher, N. 1992. Immediate impact of Hurricane Hugo on a Puerto Rican rain forest. Ecology 73:691694.
Weaver, P. L. 1986. Growth and age of Cyrilla racemiflora L. in montane forests of Puerto Rico. Interciencia 14:221228.
Whitmore, T. C. 1974. Change with time and the role of cyclones in tropical rain forest on Kolombangara, Solomon Islands. Commonwealth Forestry Institute Paper No. 46, Oxford, UK.
Whitmore, T. C. 1978. Gaps in the forest canopy. Pp. 639655 in Tomlinson, P. B. & Zimmerman, M. H. (eds). Tropical trees as living systems. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
Whitmore, T. C., Brown, N. D., Swaine, M. D., Kennedy, D., Goodwin-Bailey, C. I. & Gong, W.-K. 1993. Use of hemispherical photography in forest ecology: measurement of gap size and radiation totals in a Bornean rain forest. Journal of Tropical Ecology 9:131151.
Wunderle, J. M. Jr, Lodge, D. J. & Waide, R. B. 1992. Short-term effects of Hurricane Gilbert on terrestrial bird populations on Jamaica. The Auk 109:148166.
Yih, K., Boucher, D. H., Vandermeer, J. H. & Zamora, N. 1991. Recovery of the rain forest of southeastern Nicaragua after destruction by Hurricane Joan. Biotropica 23:106113.
Zimmerman, J. K., Everham, E. M. III, Waide, R. B., Lodge, D. J., Taylor, C. M. & Brokaw, N. V. L. 1994. Responses of tree species to hurricane winds in subtropical wet forest in Puerto Rico: implications for tropical tree life histories. Journal of Ecology 82:911922.


Changes in light below the canopy of a Jamaican montane rainforest after a hurricane

  • P. J. Bellingham (a1), E. V. J. Tanner (a1), P. M. Rich (a2) and T. C. R. Goodland (a3)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed