Abstract

Just prior to the passage of Hurricane Hugo over St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, 35 molluscan skeletal samples were collected at 30 m intervals along a sampling transect in Salt River Bay, on the north-central coast. Three months after the hurricane, the transect was resampled to permit direct assessment of storm effects on skeletal distributions. Results indicate that spatial zonation of molluscan accumulations, associated with environmental transitions along the transect, was maintained in the wake of the hurricane. However, limited transport was diagnosed by comparing the compositions of prestorm and poststorm samples from the deepest, mud-rich subenvironment on the transect. In aggregate, the species richness of samples from the southern half of this zone increased from 16 to 40, and the abundance of species that were not among the characteristic molluscs of this subenvironment increased from 11% to 26%. These storm effects could probably not have been recognized, and attributed directly to Hugo, had there been no prestorm samples with which to compare directly the poststorm samples.

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