Question: Is a rapid decline in abundance of a dominant species in a bottomland hardwood forest evidence for a trade-off between flood-and shade-tolerance?
Location: Bottomland hardwood forest in east Texas, USA.
Methods: We used 23 years of data on marked individuals to examine abundance, mortality, recruitment and growth of trees before and after a long growing season flood.
Results: A decline of 47% in abundance and 49% in basal area of Carpinus caroliniana (Betulaceae) occurred between 1989 and 1994 in a bottomland hardwood forest following a long summer flood. Other major species showed little change in abundance or basal area. The Carpinus decline was greater at low elevations suggesting the importance of flooding. Carpinus is rated among the least flood-tolerant species in the system. It differs from other species of similar flood tolerance in adult stature (midstory) and shade tolerance (tolerant).
Conclusions: The trade-off between flood tolerance and shade tolerance can influence dynamics of floodplain forests.
Nomenclature: Burns & Honkala (1990) except for Ilex decidua Walt.