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We found prolific growth of new fine rootlets (209 ± 34 SE g m) in the storm deposited material suggesting that deposits may become more stable in the near future (i.e., erosion rate will decrease).Surficial erosion and belowground processes both played an important role in determining the overall soil elevation.Vegetation at both sites fully recovered within one year, and accumulation of root matter at Big Branch increased 10-fold from 2005 to 2006, suggesting that the hurricane stimulated belowground productivity.Results of this study imply that hurricane sediment may benefit subsiding marshes by slowing elevation loss.However, long-term effects of hurricane sediment on elevation dynamics will depend not only on the amount of sediment deposited, but on sediment texture and resistance to compaction as well as on changes in organic matter accumulation in the years following the hurricane.Soil elevation affects tidal inundation period, inundation frequency, and overall hydroperiod, all of which are important ecological factors affecting species recruitment, composition, and survival in wetlands.Hurricane damage was related to hydro-geomorphic type of forest.Basin mangroves suffered significantly more damage than riverine or island mangroves.
Andrew did slightly more damage to island mangroves.
At Big Branch where storm sediments had higher organic matter and water contents, post-storm elevation loss was more rapid due to initial compaction of the storm layer in combination with root-zone collapse.
In contrast, elevation loss was slower at Pearl River where the storm deposit (high sand content) did not compact and the root zone did not collapse.
We report expansion and contraction of each soil zone.
Hurricane Wilma deposited 37.0 (± 3.0 SE) mm of material; however, the absolute soil elevation change was 42.8 mm due to expansion in the shallow soil zone.