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Abstract Detail

Tropical Biology

Salazar, Jackeline [1], Ortega-Tibrey, Yolaine [1], Mateo, Amelia [1], Guzman, Rosanna [1], Leon, Yolanda [2], Feliz, Gerson [3], Nolasco, Yeimi [3], Carlo, Tomas [4].

Fruiting phenology pattern in a dry forest of Hispaniola Island, Greater Antilles.

Dry forests are one of the most threatened ecosystems in the Caribbean Islands Biodiversity Hotspot. In Hispaniola Island, the most preserved dry forest is located within the Jaragua National Park in the Dominican Republic, which is considered a critical habitat for a number of endangered species of plants, birds, mammals, and reptiles. Climate change can pose a serious threat to the overall biodiversity in the Caribbean, as many local endemic species are sensitive to environmental changes. Therefore, detecting changes in the phenological pattern of plants is important to identify species that are sensitive or resilient to climate change scenarios. Here we evaluated the potential shifts in plant phenology due to climate variations and their impact on plant-animal interactions. Fruiting phenology of woody plants was recorded in a one-hectare plot in Fondo Paradi, Jaragua National Park during three years (2014-2016). Plant diaspores were collected every month from seed traps and trees with fruits were recorded. We found that precipitation was correlated to fruiting phenology at the site. The fructification pattern of the plant community was variable among years. Five plant species with seeds dispersed by animals had fruits available for more than 19 months: Bursera simaruba (Burseraceae), Guaiacum sanctum (Zygophyllaceae), Oxandra lanceolata (Annonaceae), Sideroxylon foetidissimum (Sapotaceae), Trichilia hirta (Meliaceae). These five zoochorous plant species were resilient to low rainfall and provided a reliable food source for frugivores, which highlight their importance to support local biodiversity. Myrciaria floribunda (Myrtaceae), another zoochorous plant with fruits locally used by humans to prepare wine and jelly, showed a more unpredictable variation in its fruiting phenology and can be more susceptible to changes in rainfall patterns. Our fruiting phenological data provides important evidence to identify species of woody plants resilient or susceptible to climate change and to understand local plant-animal interactions and their importance maintaining the tropical dry forest communities in the Hispaniola Island. Our data is also relevant to support restoration efforts in degraded dry forests of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

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1 - Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, Biologia, Torre Administrativa, 7mo. piso, Zona Universitaria, Santo Domingo, Distrito Nacional, 10103, Dominican Republic, 809-299-0351
2 - Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo , Av. de Los Próceres 49, Santo Domingo, DN, 10602, Dominican Republic
3 - Grupo Jaragua, Calle El Vergel 33, Santo Domingo, Santo Domingo, Distrito Nacional, 10107, Dominican Republic
4 - Penn State University, 208 Mueller Lab, University Park, PA, 16802, USA

Dry forest
climate change
West Indies
Zoochorous plants
Seed traps.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 21, Tropical Biology
Location: Fort Worth Ballroom 1/Omni Hotel
Date: Tuesday, June 27th, 2017
Time: 9:00 AM
Number: 21003
Abstract ID:350
Candidate for Awards:None

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