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Forest structure and tree species composition of the Grand Etang Forest on Grenada, West Indies, pre-Hurricane Ivan

The last comprehensive native forest structure survey made in the Grand Etang National Park and Forest Reserve of Grenada was in the 1940's, before Hurricane Janet hit the island in 1955. The data from this study were collected in the mid-1990's, previous to the devastation of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the first hurricane to strike Grenada since 1955. A total of 584 trees representing 41 species were identified in twenty 2m x 50m plots. Mean tree height, basal area per hectare, tree density per hectare, and species richness were determined for the park and forest reserve. Licania ternatensis was the dominant tree in terms of density per hectare (18%), while Dacryodes excelsa was dominant in terms of basal area per hectare (30.3m^2). Trichillia septentrionalis had the largest mean height (23.6m) even though the tallest tree in the sample was a Dacryodes excelsa (51.9m). The composition of the Grand Etang forest in the 1990's consisted of a mosaic of strands of different size classes and species composition, most likely indicating varying damage and recovery from Hurricane Janet. Additional surveys are recommended to reassess Grenada's Grand Etang native rainforest structure in order to determine which tree species are recovering and at what rate after the devastation of Hurricane Ivan. These results could then be compared to the significant body of work done on ecologically similar hurricane affected wet/rain and lower montane wet/rain forests found on Puerto Rico.

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