Tropical Dry Forests

Tropical Dry Forests

Tropical Dry Forests are a unique ecosystem with high levels of endemism (containing many species unique to the ecosystem).  These forests are characterized by a pronounced dry season during part of the year, which provokes a variety of adaptations in plants and animals.  Many tree species are deciduous, losing their leaves at the onset of the dry season.  Other plant adaptations are structured around water conservation and include spines, photosynthetic bark, waxy leaves, and tissues that can swell and store water collected during the rainy season.  Animals, too, have developed adaptations to the challenging dry season.  Amphibians and insects will burrow deep into damp mud, and lie dormant until the rains return.  Other species, including howler monkeys, change their diet and behavior during the dry season, even going so far as to become less territorial when resources are scarce.

These unique ecosystems are under threat.  They are easily converted cattle pasture, more so than tropical rainforests because the dry season makes these ecosystems more hospitable to humans.  This conversion has resulted in large scale habitat loss and fragmentation:  less than 2% of the original dry forest habitat remains in Ecuador.

Ceiba has long been a champion of dry tropical forest protection, beginning with our establishment of the Lalo Loor Dry Forest Reserve in 2004.  Today our work on the coast of Ecuador also comprises community development partnerships that promote sustainable micro-enterprises and agriculture models, and the creation of a continuous corridor of protected forests, the Coastal Conservation Corridor.

For more information on Dry Forest Ecology and Conservation, click here (pdf).