The Hispaniolan dry forests are located throughout the southern and western two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola. The natural vegetation consists primarily of species belonging to the cactus family and shrubs and trees adapted to the limited water availability.
Hispaniolan Dry Forests
The Hispaniolan dry forests are located throughout the southern and western two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, making up about 20% of the vegetation.
The Hispaniolan dry forests ecoregion extends along the coastal lowlands in Haiti's northwest and covers some coastal patches along the southern Tiburón Peninsula in the southwest.
In the south, the ecoregion extends east through the Cul de Sac Valley, connecting with the Neiba Valley in the Dominican Republic, and continues eastward to the coast.
The terrain in the Hispaniolan dry forests ecoregion has variable topography, from flat near the coast to rugged on the slopes of the mountain ranges. Elevation varies from sea level to about 700 m (2,300 ft).
The average annual precipitation varies from 545 mm (21 in) in the south to 980 mm (38 in) north. The average annual temperature for this ecoregion is about 26 °C (79 °F).
The other ecoregions on the island of Hispaniola include:
Flora and Fauna
The natural vegetation in the Hispaniolan dry forests consists primarily of species belonging to the cactus family and shrubs and trees adapted to the limited water availability, often averaging 6-8 m tall.
The principal tree species include Prosopis juliflora (mesquite), sweet acacia, guaiac wood, Holywood, Spanish elm, and the endangered American mahogany. In addition, the Sabal palm is an indicator species for transitions from dry forest to wet.
Plant communities include high dry forest and cactus scrub dominated by species of Prosopis, Pilosocereus, Hippomane, Cylindropuntia, Agave, and Bursera, as well as Melocactus lemairei.
The current main threats to the Hispaniolan dry forest ecoregion are gathering firewood, deforestation for development, and intensive land use for recreational purposes. In addition, this ecoregion has also been degraded by overgrazing land for cattle, goats, and donkeys.
The Hispaniolan dry forests ecoregion has lost more than half its original habitat. In Haiti, this ecoregion is heavily degraded due to the demographic pressures in the country and is not represented in any of the protected areas in the country.
In the Dominican Republic, this ecoregion is represented in the Jaragua and Isla Beata National Park, the Bahoruco Oriental National Park, the Cabral-Polo Ecological Corridor, the Sierra Martín García National Park, Isla Catalina Natural Monument, Eastern National Park, and the Monte Cristi National Park.
Patches of dry forest can also be found in Sierra Bahoruco National Park and the El Aceitillar-Cabo Rojo Scenic Route.
Map depicting the extent of the Hispaniola Dry Forests ecoregion