Size and age structures of stand populations of numerous tree species exhibit uneven or reverse J-distributions that can persist after non-catastrophic disturbance, especially windstorms. Among disjunct populations of conspecific trees, alternative distributions are also possible and may be attributed to more localized variation in disturbance. Regional differences in structure and demography among disjunct populations of sand pine (Pinus clausa (Chapm. ex Engelm.) Vasey ex Sarg.) in the Florida panhandle and peninsula may result from variation in hurricane regimes associated with each of these populations. We measured size, age, and growth rates of trees from panhandle and peninsula populations and then compiled size and age class distributions. We also characterized hurricanes in both regions over the past century. Size and age structures of panhandle populations were unevenly distributed and exhibited continuous recruitment; peninsula populations were evenly sized and aged and exhibited only periodic recruitment. Since hurricane regimes were similar between regions, historical fire regimes may have been responsible for regional differences in structure of sand pine populations. We hypothesize that fires were locally nonexistent in coastal panhandle populations, while periodic high intensity fires occurred in peninsula populations over the past century. Such differences in local fire regimes could have resulted in the absence of hurricane effects in the peninsula. Increased intensity of hurricanes in the panhandle and current fire suppression patterns in the peninsula may shift characteristics of sand pine stands in both regions. ?? 2007 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
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Stand structure and dynamics of sand pine differ between the Florida panhandle and peninsula