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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. The dry season leads to a variety of adaptations in plants and animals. Many tree species are deciduous, losing their leaves over 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. Many animals have developed adaptations to the dry season as well. Amphibians and insects will burrow deep into damp mud and wait for the rains to return. Other species, such as 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. There is now less than 2% of dry forest left in Ecuador. Despite the threats and loss of habitat, there are several organizations dedicated to conservation of the remaining forests.

For more information on Dry Forest Ecology and Conservation view our PDF.