In 1990, the University of Puerto Rico established the 16-ha Hurricane Recovery Plot in the lowland moist forest of the Luquillo Experimental Forest, a long-term research site of the U.S. Forest Service and one of the largest protected forest areas remaining in Puerto Rico. The relatively low tree diversity of this insular forest makes a 16-ha plot adequate at this site. Hurricane Hugo struck the plot in 1989, providing an opportunity to study the impact of a major hurricane on a tropical forest. Preliminary analysis of the second census (all stems >= 1 cm) shows that mortality rates since 1991 have been low. The total number of stems for most species >= 10 cm dbh is back to pre-hurricane levels, as mortality was equal to the recruitment of stems from smaller size classes.
Destruction from Hurricane Hugo provided an important opportunity for establishment and growth of pioneer trees; however, overall, it appears to have had relatively little net impact on the remainder of the tree community. Researchers are currently analyzing the effects of Hurricane George, which hit the site in 1998. Hurricane George is providing an unparalleled opportunity to reanalyze storms' impacts on the forest.