Authors: Josep Raventós Bonvehí, Elaine González Hernández, Ernesto Mújica Benítez and Iván A. Ortiz-Rodríguez
In the Caribbean basin, hurricanes represent a dominant disturbance force for the tropical coastal forests. Using an Integral Projection Model (IPM), we assessed the population status of Encyclia bocourtii (Orchidaceae) three years after damage caused by Hurricane Ivan during its passage through the peninsula of Guanacahabibes, Cuba. Based on the abundance of E. bocourtii recorded in permanent study plots, we know that the population declined by 63% after disturbance. Our results show that the estimated asymptotic growth rate from the fitted integral model was λmax=1.028 [0.9377 – 1.1399]; the uncertainty associated with this parameter is related to the process of estimating reproductive variables on epiphytic orchids. The elasticity surface showed that elasticities are high along the first part of the principal diagonal representing the birth and survival of small to medium-size individuals. A damping ratio close to 1 suggested that the current structure is far from equilibrium, which in turn suggests that transient dynamics could be important to this epiphytic orchid. Finally, because survival of the larger size individuals is high, the reintroduction strategies to new habitats after disturbance events seems indicate than it is better to relocate adults than seeds.
Keywords: continuous population structure; elasticity; matrix population models; vital rates