Sensing climate change in an ephemeral coastal pond: implications to the conservation of biodiversity in a subtropical dry forest
Ortiz-Zayas, Jorge R.
Blanco, Juan Felipe
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There is concern that climate change may reduce rainfall in the Caribbean and increase sea levels thus altering groundwater supplies and coastal habitats. The potential effects of rainfall reduction and sea level changes will likely be more evident in dry lowland subtropical forests which are more susceptible to fires and to sea level changes. In order to improve management decisions, a systematic monitoring program of surface and groundwater levels was established in 2005 at an ephemeral coastal pond located in the Guánica Biospheric Reserve in Southwestern Puerto Rico. The program has provided invaluable data in support of conservation of endangered wildlife. The data suggest the ephemeral coastal ponds are critical habitats highly susceptible to climate change and to storm surges drastically altering habitat conditions and posing stresses to freshwater endangered fauna.