El Yunque vs. Guanica dry forest
Mónica C. del Moral
El Yunque Natural Rainforest has become one
of the world’s greatest natural wonders due to the
ecological diversity that distinguishes it. Its
captivating beauty has attracted so much attention
that it has even been considered a candidate in
becoming one of the new Seven Natural Wonders of
the World. But how did this forest become the
biological jewel it is today?
• From the very origins of our civilization, El Yunque has
been of major importance in different aspects.
• It is believed that the Taíno Indians would worship Yuquiyú,
the god of good, from the peaks of this singular highland.
They called this mountain Yuque, meaning sacred or white
lands, since their peaks were covered with clouds (the
Spanish later mistook the name and called it Yunque).
• Its unique beauty attracted the Spanish and in 1876 King
Alfonso XII designated 12,000 acres of the Sierra de
Luquillo as a reserve, making El Yunque one of the oldest
reserves in the Western Hemisphere.
• In 1898, the Spanish-American War Spanish Crown ceded
Puerto Rico to the United States. Five years later, United
States’ President, Theodore Roosevelt, proclaimed the forest
the ‘Luquillo Forest Reserve’.
• The name was once again changed under the management
of the Forest Service Division of the United States
Department of Agriculture (USDA) to the ‘Caribbean
National Forest/Luquillo Experimental Forest’.
• In 1976, the United Nations Education Scientific and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed it the first
International Biosphere Reserve in Puerto Rico, under the
program ‘El Hombre y la Biosfera’.
With population growth and the need for land,
forests have been threatened worldwide, many of
which have been altered by man. Fortunately
Guánica Dry Forest, classified as a xerophyte
subtropical forest, is one of the best preserved dry
forests in existence.
• Originally, the forest was a private property in which
farming took place.
• In 1919 it was established as the ‘Guánica State Forest’.
Because of its importance, it was later designated as a
Forest Reserve in 1985.
• Due to its complexity of natural and scientific importance,
in 1981, the United Nations Organization (UN), under the
program of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO) it was awarded the
distinction of being the second International Biosphere
Reserve in Puerto Rico.
• This forest has given great importance to scientific research,
vital information to develop a management plan aimed at
• Currently, Mr. Miguel Canals of the Department of Natural
and Environmental Resources (DNER), directs the forest
and has participated in many of the scientific research that
has occurred there.
• A compilation of some of the research done until 1990 was
published in the journal ‘Acta Scientifica’. From 1990
onwards 119 investigations have been conducted in a
variety of fields, such as flora and fauna, archeology,
ecology, and fishery, among others.
El Yunque localization
• It is located in the north-east region of Puerto Rico in the Sierra
• El Yunque takes certain areas of Canóvanas, Río Grande,
Luquillo, Las Piedras, Naguabo and Fajardo.
• It is around 11,500 hectares of terrain
Guanica dry Forest localization
• The Dry forest of Guanica is located at the south-
west of Puerto Rico.
• It is in the Coast of Gúanica.
• It is approximately 11,000 cords of terrain
including 8 nautical miles.
• It is very moist all year
• A lot of breeze
• The temperature is 77.9°F in the
low regions of the forest; in the
high regions of the forest it may
decrease up to 65°F.
Dry forest of Guánica
• Very dry
• Hardly any precipitation
• Temperature reaches the 75°C
during the rainy months(August-
November) and 95°F during the
• Annually there are 1,625 rainfalls
• Average of rain is 97 inches in the
low regions and in the high
regions is 185 inches
• Months of mayor rain: September
• Minor rain: February and March
Dry Forest of Guánica
• Does not rain often
• The average amount of rain per
year 25-30 inches
• A lot of evaporation
• It has a lot of marine influences :
humidity and salinity
• Moist yet useless
• Low in nutrients
• Not fertile
• It is elevated terrain
• Not very deep
Dry Forest of Guánica
• Dry and useless
• Low accumulation of organic
• Not fertile
• It is mostly plane terrain
• It is mostly rocks and stones
• Has 8 mayor rivers: Espiritu
Santo, Mameyes, Sabana,
Pitanaya, Fajardo, Santiago, Río
Blanco and Río Grande de Loíza
And many innumerable ravines and
Dry Forest of Guánica
• Lack of permanent rivers
Flora of El Yunque
• 240 native species
• 26 endemic species
• 47 exotic species
• 50 native orchids
• 150 Ferns
Yunque divided in four zones
• Tabonuco Forest
• Palo Colorado Forest
• Palma Sierra Forest
• Enano Forest or Cloud Forest
1) Tabonuco Forest
• Elevation 600m
• Acres covered (13,335)
• Tall Trees that have few branches in its lower
• Dominant Species: Tabonuco Tree(Dacryodes
• Arboreal Ferns(Cyathea arborea)
• The Guaraguao tree(Guarea guidona)
• Laurel Sabio (Magnolia splendens)
• Ausubo(Manilkara bidentata)
• Yagrumo Hembra(Cecropia peltata)
2) Palo Colorado Forest
• 600m-900m Elevation
• Acre Extension(8,490)
• Trees with hollow trunks and Superficial roots
• Dominant species: Palo Colorado(Cyrilla
• Caimillito(Micropholis garcinifolia)
• Caimillito Verde(Micropholis garciniaefolia)
• Yagrumo (Cecropia peltata)
• Azafran(Hedyosmum arborencens)
3) Palma Sierra Forest
• Elevation 600m
• Acre Extension (5,088)
• Palms have stabilizer root systems
• Dominant species:Palma Sierra(Prestoea montana)
4) Dwarf Forest
(Cloud Forest)• Elevation 1000m
• Acre extension (933)
• Low elevation trees no more than 12 feet tall.
• Dominant species:
• Nemoca(Ocotea spathulata)
• Roble Sierra(Tabebuia rigida)
• Camasey Negro(Calycogonium
• Guayabota(Eugenia borinquensis)
7) Hedge and thicket
a) Opuntia cacti b) African savanah grass
8) Sandy beaches
a) Uva playera b) Australian pine
Fauna of El Yunque
• In the forest inhabits over 100 species of vertebrates.
• Mammals are represented by 11 species of bats.
• The general fauna of the forest consists mainly of
birds and lizards.
• Amphibians are represented by 12 species of
“Coqui”. Two of them in danger of extinction.
• Birds are approximately 66 species.
• Brown Flower Bat (Erophylla
• Antillean Ghost Faced Bat
• Lagarto verde (Anolis cuvieri)
• Lagartijo comun (Anolis
• Boa de Puerto Rico (Epicrates
• 12 species of the genus
Eleutherodactylus. 2 of them I
• Coqui Eneida (E. eneidae)
• Coqui palmeado (E. karlschmidti)
21 species of reptiles.
8 are endemic.
v Anolis poncensis
• There are a series of endemic birds, which are can be
found in the Dry Forest which include:
• Carpintero (Melarerpes portorricensis).
• Pájaro bobo mayor (Saurothera vieillotil).
• Zumbadorcito (Chlorostilbon margaeus).
• San Pedrito (Todus mexicanus).
• Capitán o Comeñame (Loxigilla portorricensis).
• Bien-te-veo (Vireo latimeri).
• Juí (Myiarchus stolidus ant illarum).
• Mariquita (Agelaius xanthomus).
• Guabairo (Caparimulgus vociferus noctitherus).
• The variety of insects includes beetles, grasshoppers,
and a series of endemic termites and ants.
Camponotus taino Solenopsis torrei
• The forest also posses an aquatic area with
preliminary lists claiming a diversity of over 1,000
species. These include crustaceans, aquatic mammals,
fish, sponges and many more.
• Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales de Puerto Rico. (2008,
November). DRNA. Retrieved july 6, 2013, from drna.gobierno.pr: http://
• Ramirez, D. J. (n.d.). Bosque Seco de Guanica. Retrieved july 6, 2013, from