Gulf Coast Atlantic White-Cedar Recovery Post Hurricane Disturbance

Clayton W. Hale, Mississippi State University

Joshua J. Granger, Mississippi State University

The number and severity of Gulf Coast hurricanes is increasing, resulting in intensified disturbance on coastal forest communities. Atlantic white-cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides L.) grows no further than one hundred miles from the coast, making the species particularly vulnerable when hurricanes collide with the coast. Occurring primarily along the Atlantic Coast from Maine to Florida, the species does form isolated stands along the Gulf Coast regions of Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. In Mississippi and Alabama, the species is considered imperiled and vulnerable, respectively, according to NatureServ. Atlantic white-cedar is imperiled and is at risk of extirpation from the Gulf Coast by extreme weather events, altered disturbance regimes, changes in hydrology, and management. This study evaluates the recovery of an Atlantic white-cedar stand fourteen years post Hurricane Katrina. Pre- and post- Hurricane Katrina data were compared with recent data to determine how Gulf Coast stands of Atlantic white-cedar recover post disturbance. Understanding the long-term recovery of Atlantic white-cedar stands after a hurricane allows land managers and conservationist to more effectively manage these systems for the perpetuation of the species on the Gulf Coast.

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