Prabakaran, Nehru and Paramasivam, Balasubramanian (2015) Littoral forest composition and influence of soil characteristics on vegetation succession in the Tsunami impacted coastal habitats of Nicobar Islands, India. Journal of Island Ecology, 1 . pp. 1-17.

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The mega earthquake of 9.3 Mw magnitude and subsequent tsunami in the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004 had disastrous impacts on human and coastal ecosystem of South-east Asia. Proximity of the Nicobar group of Islands, India to the epicenter of the earthquake contributed to high damage levels in its coastal environs. The littoral forests that existed in the coastal area between the beach and the higher vegetation were significantly damaged by the tsunami waves. Along with the vegetation damage, the soil substratum was also disturbed to a great extent due to the heavy deposition of sand and coral rubbles during and after the tsunami. However, information based on field observation such as, the tsunami damage to coastal vegetation and the succession of vegetation in the damaged habitats that may be important to understand how such high intensity natural disturbances involved in the shaping of coastal vegetation communities in the tropical islands are rather scanty. In the present study we have attempted to understand the, i) variation in the vegetation composition between successional and old-growth forest (OF), and ii) the influence of soil nutrient content on the vegetation succession in the tsunami impacted sites. Sampling plots of 50 × 20 m (0.1 ha.) were established and trees ≥ 3.2 cm diameter at breast height (DBH) within the plots were enumerated with their DBH and species name. The vegetation in the successional forest was categorized as Rubble Vegetation (RV) and Loamy Vegetation (LV) based on tsunami deposition in the soil substratum. Soil samples were collected from RV and LV for the physicochemical analysis. The mean species richness, stem density and basal area plot-1 varied significantly among the vegetation types RV, LV and OF (P=0.000). Strong dissimilarity was found in the species composition between successional vegetation and OF. All the soil micro- and macro-nutrients, with an exception of calcium, were higher in LV than RV. The recovery of vegetation was found to be slower in the RV than LV. We conclude that the disturbance to soil substratum and poor soil nutrient content have greatly affected the natural recovery process of tsunami impacted littoral forest in Nicobar Islands and a long-term monitoring of the studied plots is highly recommended to understand the successional dynamics of forest vegetation that are impacted by rare natural disturbances, like tsunami.

Document Type: Article
Programme Area: UNSPECIFIED
Research affiliation: Integrated Modelling > Spatial Ecology and Interactions
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
ISSN: 03781127
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2019 11:08
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2020 12:59

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