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Puerto Rican dry forests (NT0226)

Puerto Rican dry forests
Guanica NP, Puerto Rico
Photograph by Arnold Benus


Southwestern Puerto Rico and on adjacent islands and portions of each of the larger U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean
Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests

500 square miles (1,300 square kilometers) -- about half the size of Rhode Island

· Dry Southern Coast
· Special Features
· Did You Know?
· Wild Side
· Cause for Concern
More Photos

Dry Southern Coast

Most of Puerto Rico is covered in moist tropical forest, however along the southern coast and on several neighboring islands are several regions of seasonal dry forest. These dry forests extend as a strip along the southern coast, and only extend inland 10 to 20 miles to the foothills. In this narrow strip however is a great diversity of species specially adapted to life on the dry side -- including tody flycatchers and endemic Puerto Rican nightjars.

Special Features Special Features

The tropical dry broadleaf forests of Puerto Rico are filled with interesting plants that show special adaptations to the long dry season and low annual rainfall. For example, many plants here have water storage structures such as thick trunks and waxy coatings on their leaves, trunks, and branches that help keep moisture in.

Did You Know?
A 1,000 year-old lignum vitae tree is found in the Guánica Forest.

Wild Side

The dry limestone forests of the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico are the only places on the planet where you can hear the haunting call of the Puerto Rican nightjar. At night, the birds emerge from their favorite perches to capture flying insects. The endemic Puerto Rican woodpecker, one of the most beautiful in the world, lives only here. Red and green tody birds can be seen flycatching from limbs. Many flowering trees brighten up the landscape during the dry season when the leaves are gone.

Cause for Concern

Threats to the Puerto Rican Dry Forests ecoregion include clearing for development, fires, and introduced species. The last large block of coastal dry forest and dry limestone forest occurs within the Guánica Commonwealth Forest and Biosphere Reserve.

For more information on this ecoregion, go to the World Wildlife Fund Scientific Report.

All text by World Wildlife Fund © 2001