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Title: Botanical and ecological basis for the resilience of Antillean dry forests

Author: Lugo, A.E.; Medina, E.; Trejo Torres, J. Carlos; Helmer, E.;

Date: 2006

Source: R.T. Pennington, G.P. Lewis, and J.A. Ratter, editors. Neotropical savannas and seasonally dry forests. Plant diversity, biogeography and conservation. Taylor and Francis Group, Boca Raton, FL.

Publication Series: Book Chapter

Description: Dry forest environments limit the number of species that can survive there. Antillean dry forests have low floristic diversity and stature, high density of small and medium-sized trees, and are among the least conserved of the tropical forests. Their canopies are smooth with no emergent trees and have high species dominance. Antillean dry forests occur mostly on limestone substrate, exposing them to more water stress and nutrient limitations than other dry forests. They also experience periodic hurricanes and anthropogenic disturbances. Many of the attributes that allow plants to survive in the stressful environment of the dry forest also provide resilience to disturbance. We attribute the high resilience of Antillean dry forests to the diversity of life forms, a high resistance to wind, a high proportion of root biomass, high soil carbon and nutrient accumulation belowground, the ability of most tree species to resprout and high nutrient-use efficiency. However, opening the canopy, eroding the soil and removing root biomass decreases forest resilience and allows alien species invasion.

Keywords: tropical dry forests, limestone, anthropogenic disturbance, Antilles, Caribbean, resilience, soil carbon, nutrient accumulation

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Lugo, A.E.; Medina, E.; Trejo Torres, J. Carlos; Helmer, E. 2006. Botanical and ecological basis for the resilience of Antillean dry forests. Pages 359-381 in R.T. Pennington, G.P. Lewis, and J.A. Ratter, editors. Neotropical savannas and seasonally dry forests. Plant diversity, biogeography and conservation. Taylor and Francis Group, Boca Raton, FL.

 


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