Hailstorm impact across plant taxa: Leaf fall in a mountain environment

Geraldo Wilson Fernandes, Yumi Oki, Camila Mendes de Sá, Natália Magalhães Sales, André Vieira Quintino, Cristiane Freitas, Tarcisio Caires


Natural catastrophes in the planet increased over 400% from 1970 to 2005, causing severe impact on natural ecosystems, and are sought to increase in the forthcoming decades due to climate change driven events. However, the descriptions of the impacts caused by events as hailstorms on wild ecosystems are anecdotal in the tropical region. The occurrence of a severe hailstorm on a mountainous tropical environment in Brazil allowed, for the first time, to examine hailstorm impact on 32 plant species belonging to distinct families. The study was carried out in an area of rupestrian field located in Serra do Cipó, Minas Gerais State, Brazil. The impact of hail on the vegetation was evaluated by an index of damage and the damage level was related to plant species architectural features. Hail impact differed strongly among the species and was influenced by plant height, growth form, leaf traits and stem type. Hailstorms are natural disturbance phenomena that have differential impacts on plants species in rupestrian fields. 

Key words: climate change, hailstorm damage, plant resistance, rupestrian fields, Serra do Cipó.

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