Fishers’ Knowledge of Marine Species Assemblages: Bridging between Scientific and Local Ecological Knowledge in Southeastern Puerto Rico

García-Quijano, C.G. 2007. Fishers’ knowledge of marine species assemblages:
Bridging between scientific and local ecological knowledge
in southeastern Puerto Rico. American Anthropologist 109, 3, 529-

Increasingly, local ecological knowledge (LEK) held by groups of people engaging directly with their ecosystems for food production is recognized as a valuable tool for understanding environmental change, as well as for ecosystem management and conservation. However, the acceptance of LEK for resource management has been partly hindered by difficulties in translating local knowledge into a form that can be applied directly to Western scientific endeavors. Anthropology’s focus on cultural meaning makes its practitioners uniquely qualified to find common ground between different systems of knowledge. Here, I report the use of ethnographic methods to represent Puerto Rican small-scale fishers’ knowledge about tropical coastal habitat connectivity and the composition of species assemblages by underwater habitats. These two topics are of current interest for tropical fishery science and their study can benefit from fishers’ extensive experience with the coastal environments on which they depend. [Keywords: local ecological knowledge, tropical fisheries, Caribbean, ethnoecology, methods]

Land Use History, Environment, and Tree Composition in a Tropical Forest

Thompson, Jill; Brokaw, Nicholas; Zimmerman, Jess K.; Waide, Robert B.; Everham, Edwin M. III; Lodge, D. Jean; Taylor, Charlotte M.; Garcia-Montiel, Diana; Fluet, Marcheterre 2002. Land use history, environment, and tree composition in a tropical forest. Ecological applications. Vol. 12, no. 5 (2002): pages 1344-1363.

The effects of historical land use on tropical forest must be examined to understand present forest characteristics and to plan conservation strategies. We compared the effects of past land use, topography, soil type, and other environmental variables on tree species composition in a subtropical wet forest in the Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico. The study involved stems > 10 cm diameter measured at 130 cm above the ground, within the 16-ha Luquillo Forest Dynamics Plot (LFDP), and represents the forest at the time Hurricane Hugo struck in 1989. Topography in the plot is rugged, and soils are variable. Historical documents and local residents described past land uses such as clear-felling and selective logging followed by farming, fruit and coffee production, and timber stand improvement in the forest area that now includes the LFDP. These uses ceased 40-60 yr before the study, but their impacts could be differentiated by percent canopy cover seen in aerial photographs from 1936. Using these photographs, we defined four historic cover classes within the LFDP. These ranged from cover class 1, the least tree-covered area in 1936, to cover class 4, with the least intensive historic land use (selective logging and timber stand improvement). In 1989, cover class 1 had the lowest stem density and proportion of large stems, whereas cover class 4 had the highest basal area, species richness, and number of rare and endemic species. Ordination of tree species composition (89 species, 13 167 stems) produced arrays that primarily corresponded to the four cover classes (i.e., historic land uses). The ordination arrays corresponded secondarily to soil characteristics and topography. Natural disturbances (hurricanes, landslides, and local treefalls) affected tree composition, but these effects did not correlate with the major patterns of species distributions on the plot. Thus, it appears that forest development and natural disturbance have not masked the effects of historical land use in this tropical forest, and that past land use was the major influence on the patterns of tree composition in the plot in 1989. The least disturbed stand harbors more rare and endemic species, and such stands should be protected.

Damming Tropical Island Streams: Problems, Solutions, and Alternatives.

MARCH,JAMES G.; BENSTEAD, JONATHAN P.; PRINGLE, CATHERINE M.; SCATENA, FREDERICK N. 2003. Damming Tropical Island Streams: Problems, Solutions, and Alternatives.. November 2003 / Vol. 53 No. 11 • BioScience.

The combination of human population growth, increased water usage, and limited groundwater resources often leads to extensive damming of rivers and streams on tropical islands. Ecological effects of dams on tropical islands can be dramatic, because the vast majority of native stream faunas (fishes, shrimps, and snails) migrate between freshwater and saltwater during their lives. Dams and associated water withdrawals have been shown to extirpate native faunas from upstream reaches and increase mortality of downstream-drifting larvae. A better understanding of the effects of dams and the behavior of tropical island stream faunas is providing insights into how managers can mitigate the negative effects of existing dams and develop alternatives to dam construction while still providing freshwater for human use.We review the ecological effects of dams on tropical island streams, explore means to mitigate some of these effects, describe alternatives to dam construction, and recommend research priorities.

Landsliding and Its Multiscale Influence on Mountainscapes

Restrepo, Carla; Walker, Lawrence R.; Shiels, Aaron B.; Bussmann, Rainer; Claessens, Lieven; Fisch, Simey; Lozano, Pablo; Negi, Girish; Paolini, Leonardo; Poveda, Germán; Ramos-Sharrón, Carlos; Ritcher, Michael; Velázquez, Eduardo. 2009. Landsliding and its multiscale influence on mountainscapes. Bioscience. 59(8): 685-698.

Landsliding is a complex process that modifies mountainscapes worldwide. Its severe and sometimes long-lasting negative effects contrast with the less-documented positive effects on ecosystems, raising numerous questions about the dual role of landsliding, the feedbacks between biotic and geomorphic processes, and, ultimately, the ecological and evolutionary responses of organisms. We present a conceptual model in which feedbacks between biotic and geomorphic processes, landslides, and ecosystem attributes are hypothesized to drive the dynamics of mountain ecosystems at multiple scales. This model is used to integrate and synthesize a rich, but fragmented, body of literature generated in different disciplines, and to highlight the need for profitable collaborations between biologists and geoscientists. Such efforts should help identify attributes that contribute to the resilience of mountain ecosystems, and also should help in conservation, restoration, and hazard assessment. Given the sensitivity of mountains to land-use and global climate change, these endeavors are both relevant and timely.

Orchid-Phorophyte Relationships in a Forest Watershed in Puerto Rico

Orchid-Phorophyte Relationships in a Forest Watershed in Puerto Rico
Luis E. Migenis and James D. Ackerman
Journal of Tropical Ecology
Vol. 9, No. 2 (May, 1993), pp. 231-240

Orchid diversity, distribution and host specificity were examined in a tropical watershed in the Luquillo Experimental Forest of Puerto Rico. Eleven orchid species occur in the area. The low diversity is attributed to island isolation and large-scale hurricane disturbances. Pleurothallis ruscifolia and Maxillaria coccinea were by far the most abundant species in the area and occurred on the largest number of host species and host zones. None of the orchids were host specific or host zone specialists although preferences for hosts and vertical host zones were encountered. Only 8.2% of the 426 trees and shrubs and 24.4% of the 45 species surveyed were orchid phorophytes (= hosts). Examination of host distribution by diameter at breast height (DBH) showed that 80.5% were greater than 16 cm DBH. Orchid species in the area tend to occur on rough bark hosts, but their preferences are not statistically significant. Guarea guidonia (Meliaceae) and Dacryodes excelsa (Burseraceae) are the two most important orchid hosts in our study site comprising 62.9% of all host trees. Careful management of these two tree species is suggested, since these species may be crucial to the maintenance of orchid abundance and diversity in the area.
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