Tropical forest reorganization after cyclone and fire disturbance in Samoa: remnant trees as biological legacies
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): T. Elmqvist; M. Wall; A. L. Berggren; L. Blix; A. Fritioff; U. Rinman
Publication Year: 2002

Cataloging Information

  • biological legacies
  • cyclone
  • disturbance
  • fire injuries (plants)
  • fire management
  • forest management
  • post fire recovery
  • rainforest
  • rainforests
  • remnant trees
  • reorganization
  • Samoa
  • seed dispersal
  • storms
  • tropical forests
  • vertebrate dispersal
  • wildfires
  • International
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 51324
Tall Timbers Record Number: 28162
TTRS Location Status: Not in file
TTRS Call Number: Available
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


In disturbed rain forests, large, living remnant trees may be of significant importance for postdisturbance reorganization either directly, by producing large quantities of seeds, or indirectly, by attracting vertebrate seed dispersers. In addition, remnant trees may also be important in providing a favorable microhabitat for seedlings of late-successional species. This study focused on the role of large remnant trees (> 40 cm dbh) in patterns of regeneration after cyclone and fire damage in the Tafua and Falealupo Rain Forest Preserves, Savaií, Samoa. At Tafua, 10 large trees at each of two sites (one site burned in 1990) were investigated with regard to numbers of species and densities of plants from three different size classes at different distances from remnant trees. At the burned site, both species richness and the densities of plants < 1cm dbh were significantly higher inside the canopies of remnant trees than outside of them. At the unburned site, no or only marginally significant differences were observed. At Falealupo, two burned sites (burned in 1993 and 1998) were investigated using seed traps. At both sites, the seed rain from vertebrate dispersers was disproportionally higher under the canopies of remnant trees than in outside areas. No differences in soil characteristics were found when comparing samples taken from inside and outside canopies. Our results are congruent with the prediction that large remnant trees surviving in severely disturbed rain-forest areas represent biological legacies and serve as nuclei for reorganization. Based on this study and our previous work, we suggest that three factors represent essential components of the spatial resilience of tropical forest ecosystems and should be targeted for active management in tropical forests exposed to large-scale disturbances, particularly fire: remnant trees, refugia, and vertebrate dispersers. © 2001 Society for Conservation Biology. Abstract reproduced by permission.

Online Link(s):
Elmqvist, T., M. Wall, A. L. Berggren, L. Blix, A. Fritioff, and U. Rinman. 2002. Tropical forest reorganization after cyclone and fire disturbance in Samoa: remnant trees as biological legacies. Conservation Ecology, v. 5, no. 2, p. R10 [aarticle no. online].