Natural Resources, School of


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Sun, J.;Wei, X.; Zhou, Y.; Chan, C.; Diao, J. Hurricanes Substantially Reduce the Nutrients in Tropical ForestedWatersheds in Puerto Rico. Forests 2022, 13, 71.


© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// 4.0/).


Because nutrients including nitrogen and phosphorus are generally limited in tropical forest ecosystems in Puerto Rico, a quantitative understanding of the nutrient budget at a watershed scale is required to assess vegetation growth and predict forest carbon dynamics. Hurricanes are the most frequent disturbance in Puerto Rico and play an important role in regulating lateral nitrogen and phosphorus exports from the forested watershed. In this study, we selected seven watersheds in Puerto Rico to examine the immediate and lagged effects of hurricanes on nitrogen and phosphorous exports. Our results suggest that immediate surges of heavy precipitation associated with hurricanes accelerate nitrogen and phosphorus exports as much as 297 ± 113 and 306 ± 70 times than the long-term average, respectively. In addition, we estimated that it requires approximately one year for post-hurricane riverine nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations to recover to pre-hurricane levels. During the recovery period, the riverine nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations are 30 ± 6% and 28 ± 5% higher than the pre-hurricane concentrations on average.