The Hispaniolan moist forests ecoregion is a tropical broadleaf forest on the island of Hispaniola. These wet forests maintain distinct flora and fauna, with many unique species. Initially, these forests covered about 60% of the original vegetation on the island.
Hispaniolan Moist Forests
The Hispaniolan moist forests ecoregion is a tropical broadleaf forest on the island of Hispaniola. These wet forests maintain distinct flora and fauna, with many unique species.
The forests cover a diverse topography that includes plateaus and valleys, as well as the slopes and foothills of mountains, up to an altitude of about 2,100 m (6,900 ft). The drainage basins for the island's main rivers also occur in this ecoregion.
Hispaniolan moist forests occur on most of the eastern half of the Dominican Republic, stretching from the coast to higher mountain elevations. They are found on the Tiburon Peninsula in southern Haiti and the Massif du Nord (northern mountain range).
Initially, these forests covered approximately 60% of the original vegetation on Hispaniola or 46,000 sq km (18,000 sq mi). Today, they amount to less than 15% due to illegal forestry, agricultural expansion, firewood gathering, livestock grazing and illegal hunting.
Moist forests are classified as either lowland montane mesic (moderate moisture), lowland or montane wet. Mesic forests receive 1,000 to 2,000 mm (39 to 79 in) of annual rainfall, while more than 4,000 mm (160 in) falls in wet forests.
The other ecoregions on the island of Hispaniola include:
Characteristic lowland species are:
- Haitian catalpa (Catalpa longissima)
- West Indian mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni)
- Puerto Rican royal palm (Roystonea borinquena)
- Paradise tree (Simarouba glauca)
- anón de majagua (Lonchocarpus heptaphyllus)
- jagua (Genipa americana)
- black olive (Bucida buceras)
- West Indian lancewood (Oxandra lanceolata)
- amacey (Tetragastris balsamifera)
Areas where soils are superficial or have formed from the degraded forest are indicated by trees such as:
- the sandpaper tree (Curatella americana)
- grand leaf seagrape (Coccoloba pubescens)
- Jamaican nettle tree (Trema micrantha)
Zones that have marginal earth and precipitation closer to that of the dry forests include:
- Tabebuia species
- Cashews (Anacardium occidentale)
Mesic forests include:
- Yellow olivier (Buchenavia capitata)
- sablito (Schefflera morototoni)
- maricao (Byrsonima spicata)
- aguacatillo (Alchornea latifolia)
- West Indian cherry (Prunus myrtifolia)
- árbol de Santa Maria (Calophyllum brasiliense)
- cocuyo (Hirtella triandra)
- American muskwood (Guarea guidonia)
- palo de yagua (Casearia arborea)
- locust (Hymenaea courbaril)
- balatá (Manilkara domingensis)
- sierra palm (Prestoea montana)
At higher elevations, characteristic species are:
- trembling schefflera (Schefflera tremula)
- black sapote (Diospyros digyna)
- almendrón (Prunus occidentalis)
- Fadyen's silktassel (Garrya fadyenii)
- Weinmannia pinnata
- Oreopanax capitatus
- Brunellia comocladifolia
- Hispaniolan pines
- Cyathea species
Birds of the Hispaniolan moist forests include:
- Hispaniolan amazon (Amazona ventralis)
- Hispaniolan parakeet (Aratinga chloroptera)
- Hispaniolan lizard cuckoo (Coccyzus longirostris)
- palm crow (Corvus palmarum)
- American kestrel (Falco sparverius)
- vervain hummingbird (Mellisuga minima)
- narrow-billed tody (Todus angustirostris)
- stolid flycatcher (Myiarchus stolidus)
- Hispaniolan pewee (Contopus hispaniolensis)
- rufous-throated solitaire (Myadestes genibarbis)
- Hispaniolan woodpecker (Melanerpes striatus)
- white-necked crow (Corvus leucognaphalus)
- palmchat (Dulus dominicus)
- Hispaniolan trogon (Priotelus roseigaster)
- ruddy quail-dove (Geotrygon montana)
- red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
- white-winged warbler (Xenoligea montana)
- green-tailed warbler (Microligea palustris)
- Antillean siskin (Carduelis dominicensis)
- La Selle thrush (Turdus swalesi)
- eastern chat-tanager (Calyptophilus frugivorus)
- Hispaniolan crossbill (Loxia megaplaga)
Native mammals include:
- Hispaniolan hutia (Plagiodontia aedium)
- Hispaniolan solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus)
- 18 species of bats, such as the Cuban flower bat (Phyllonycteris poeyi).
Illegal forestry operations and migratory agricultural expansion threaten the Hispaniolan moist forests ecoregion. Over 90% of this ecoregion's original habitat has already been lost. Other threats include gathering firewood, grazing, illegal hunting, contraband in endangered species, and tourism in some areas.
In the Dominican Republic, this ecoregion is protected in parts of six national parks, two reserves, and one scenic route.
In Haiti, this ecoregion is represented in parts of the Pic Macaya National Park and the La Visite National Park.
Map depicting the location of the Hispaniolan moist forests (in purple)