Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Novel dry forests in southwestern Puerto Rico


Sandra Molina Colón



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

International Institute of Tropical Forestry


Forest Ecology and Management. 262: 170-177.


We report results of new research on (1) community composition of novel subtropical dry forests developing on abandoned pastures and agricultural fields in both private and protected public lands and (2) seed germination and growth rates of plantings of native tree species on degraded soils. We found that novel dry forests were dominated by introduced species, which accounted for 59 percent of the Importance Value (IV) of stands. These forests had high species dominance, with the most dominant species averaging 51 percent of the IV but reaching values as high as 92 percent. The floristic similarity between novel and mature native forests was low (5.6 percent) compared with the similarity among novel forest stands (26 percent). Collectively, the emerging novel forests had relatively high species richness (39 species/1.2 ha). After 45–60 years of growth and development, novel forests lagged mature native forests in basal area, tree density, and species richness, and lagged stands of similar age and past land use inside a protected area. Novel forest stands inside the protected Guánica Forest had higher species richness than those located outside in private lands. Most regeneration was from seed (67 percent of the new stems were single stems). The results from the germination and planting experiment show that seeds of 17 of 21 native tree species germinated in the laboratory and grew successfully in abandoned pastures when planted and watered for a period of 13 months. Our research shows that after the initial invasion and dominance of introduced species on degraded sites, the stands diversify with native species thus evolving towards new forest types with novel species combinations.


Molina Colón, Sandra; Lugo, Ariel E.; Ramos González, Olga M. 2011. Novel dry forests in southwestern Puerto Rico. Forest Ecology and Management. 262: 170-177.


Publication Notes

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.