Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


College of Science and Mathematics



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Colette J. Fehan

Committee Member

Meiyin Wu

Committee Member

Dirk Vanderklein


Tropical cyclone activity is predicted to intensify with anthropogenic climate change. Therefore, there has been a call to action in the scientific community to increase knowledge of the impacts of tropical cyclones on ecosystems. In particular, there is a wide knowledge gap in the understanding of how tropical cyclones influence coastal marine ecosystems. Using a standardized Web of Science database search, I identified 101 peer-reviewed articles documenting the impacts of tropical cyclones on coastal marine ecosystems in the North Atlantic Ocean, including coral reefs, mangrove forests, salt marshes, and seagrass meadows. Here, I summarize the results of these articles with the aim of improving general understanding of how past tropical cyclones have affected coastal marine ecosystems. Specifically, I summarize the types of tropical cyclones that have most often been documented to impact ecosystems (tropical storms or Category 1 to 5 hurricanes), how often the impacts have been documented in each of the past 5 decades (1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s), and at what level of biological organization most of the impacts have been recorded (organismal, population, community, or ecosystem). Category 3 or greater intensity hurricanes have been responsible for most of the impacts to marine ecosystems recorded in the literature. However, there is no clear increase or decrease in the number of impacts recorded in each decade. This result may be due to a time lag in the publication of research results that has reduced the number of reports in the most recent decade. Most of the impacts of tropical cyclones have been recorded at the population level, with a decrease in population abundance following a storm. The findings of this literature review can help create a larger view of how scientists should prepare for the consequences of these natural disasters.

File Format


Included in

Biology Commons