Understory vegetation succession following tsunami catastrophe at coastal areas in Aceh, Indonesia
1,2Onrizal and 2Mashhor Mansor
1Forestry Sciences Department, Universitas Sumatera Utara, Medan 20155, Sumatera Utara
2School of Biological Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia 11800, Minden, Penang, Malaysia
The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami caused catastrophic destruction to coastal vegetation communities. Based on the ecological view, the natural disturbance is an important factor in structuring ecological communities. In order to observe and record the emergence of several existing plant species as well as new ones that were caused by the tsunami, the survey was carried out on September 2005 and December 2009. Four areas, namely aquaculture ponds, dry lands, mangrove forests, and up-lifting areas were selected. One year after tsunami, mangrove palm Nypa fruticans, mangrove fern Acrostichum aureum and coastal herb Sesuvium portulacastrum are recorded growing well in tidal areas. Five year after tsunami, species of Thypa latifolia and mangrove fern Acrostichum aureum populations colonizing open areas that were left by mangrove plant communities or unmanaged aquaculture ponds. Most of the disturbed habitats, including drylands and up-lifting areas are occupied with weedy species such as Calotropis gigantea and the noxious weedy species Mimosa pigra. This result indicated that understory species with wind-dispersed seeds played a major role in the succession of coastal vegetation recovery. The different successional patterns along the environmental gradient could result from different strategic approaches in the establishment ability and the growth rate of the dominant plants which are closely depended on the four habitat types.
Keywords: tsunami, understory vegetation, seed dispersal, succession, Aceh
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Paper presented at the 1st Joint Symposium of ITB – USM (1JSIU): Science for Sustainable Development and a Better Life. Bandung, Indonesia, 20-21 Dec. 2010