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Friday, February 4, 2011

Playa San Jose: "The area around here"

TROPICAL DRY FOREST
The Ecuadorian Dry Forests eco-region lies on the Pacific coast of Ecuador, sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the western foothills of the Andes. The eco-region occurs on a gradient, with areas of arid scrub and cactus forest along the Pacific Ocean and wetter regions higher on the Andean slopes. Dry habitats along the Pacific coast of the Americas are particularly rare, so this eco-region is a precious example of a vanishing forest type. Throughout this eco-region you can find amazing plants that are well adapted to the dry conditions that persist here during much of the year, including trees such as acacia, jacaranda, mesquite, fig, and a variety of cacti. Many species of birds use this area, including long-distance migrants, dry-forest specialists, and seasonal visitors from the neighboring forests, which come to feed during the fruiting season.
Special features
The Ecuadorian Dry Forests are an isolated haven for many plants and animals that occur nowhere else on Earth. Precipitation levels range from 20 to 40 inches (500 to 1000 mm) annually, and the region is strongly seasonal. As with most dry forest areas, the vegetation occurs in a mosaic of forest patches with gallery forests along permanent waterways. Unfortunately, this area is becoming increasingly converted to agriculture. During the dry season, many plants lose their leaves to conserve water, and many of the animals gather around permanent water holes. The rainy season changes all this, and the landscape changes from yellow and brown to vibrant green in just a few days. It is during this season that the Ecuadorian Dry Forest comes to life.
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