Geographic and Ecological Setting of the Luquillo Mountains

TitleGeographic and Ecological Setting of the Luquillo Mountains
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsWilliam H. McDowell, Scantena, FN, Waide, RB, N. V. L. Brokaw, Camilo, G, Covich, A, Crowl, AT, Grizelle González, Greathouse, E, Klawinski, PD, Lodge, DJ, Lugo, AE, Pringle, CM, Richardson, B, Richardson, B, Schaefer, DA, Silver, WL, Thompson, J, Vogt, D, Vogt, D, Willig, MR, Woolbright, LL, Zou, XM, Zimmerman, JK
EditorN. V. L. Brokaw, Crowl, AT, Lugo, AE, William H. McDowell, Scantena, FN, Waide, RB, Willig, MR
Book TitleA Caribbean Forest Tapestry: The Multidimensional Nature of Disturbance and Response
PublisherUniversity Press
Accession NumberLUQ.1073
Keywordsecosystem dynamics, Luquillo experimental forest, Puerto Rico, tropical forests

Key Points • The Luquillo Mountains in northeastern Puerto Rico are geologically dynamic, with recurrent hurricanes, landslides, and earthquakes. • Puerto Rico has never been physically connected to continents by land bridges, which, together with the island’s long distance from North and South America, contributes to its relatively low numbers of native plant and animal species for a tropical location and its high rate of endemism. • The climate is warm, wet, and relatively aseasonal but shows strong gradi- ents with elevation. • Soils are deep and highly weathered, with carbon and nutrient concentrations and standing stocks similar to those in many other tropical forests. Soils contain much to most of the available nutrients and total carbon, but plant biomass is a particularly important pool of potassium. • Nutrient inputs in precipitation are dominated by marine aerosols; these aerosols and rapid weathering contribute to a substantial export of base cations in streams. • Nitrogen budgets are unbalanced at the watershed scale, suggesting that significant amounts of N fixation are occurring. • The Luquillo Mountains contain many types of forest, but four are common and particularly well studied: tabonuco, colorado, palm, and elfin • Aboveground net primary productivity is high, as it is in many other tropical sites, and aboveground biomass, productivity, and forest stature decrease with elevation. • Large mammalian herbivores and predators are absent; lizards, frogs, snakes, and a few birds are the top terrestrial predators. • Stream and river food webs are dominated by freshwater shrimp and fish species that migrate to the estuary; nonmigratory freshwater crabs are also important, but aquatic insects are neither diverse nor abundant. • Leaf litter decomposition is rapid in both the forest and streams, and detrital pathways provide a major energy source to higher trophic levels.  Also access article in: