Hurricane Andrew Damage in Relation to Wood Decay Fungi and Insects in Bottomland Hardwoods of the Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana
Hurricane Andrew caused damage to more than 780 sq. km of bottomland hardwood and cypress-tupelo forests in the Atchafalaya Basin of Louisiana in August 1992. Trees in bottomland hardwood sites were examined, in early May 1994, for signs and symptoms of wood decay fungi, and for insect damage, ostensibly present before the hurricane, which may have predisposed trees to windthrow or breaks in the bole or top. Three sites with severe wind damage and three sites with minor wind damage were studied along the path of the hurricane. Surveying for wood decay fungi and insects on trees, and evaluating damage to crowns, stems, and roots was done on 25-m diameter point-sample plots. Evidence of wood decay fungi and insects, or the damage they cause, was rare at all sites, in part because of flooding during the evaluation, so that predisposition to wind damage by these agents was not established. Crown damage rating classes and d.b.h. classes were positively correlated for sites with severe wind damage indicating that larger diameter trees were more susceptible to wind damage than smaller diameter trees. Chinese tallow, swamp cottonwood, pumpkin ash, American sycamore, and swamp dogwood showed greater wind damage on sites with severe wind damage than other species.