Stand characteristics and leaf litter composition of a dry forest hectare in Santa Rosa National Park, Costa Rica


R BurnhamFollow

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One hectare of tropical dry forest in Guanacaste Conservation Area, Costa Rica was mapped and all trees larger than 10 cm diameter at breast height (DBH) identified. The same hectare was sampled for leaf litter and the two data sets, forest and litter, were compared. Dominant and subdominant species of the forest are represented in the leaf litter, whereas rare tree species are highly variable in their representation in the leaf litter. Relative abundance of dominant and subdominant tree species is represented well by the litter although absolute rank-order is nor identical between source forest basal area and leaf litter mass. The litter adds a significant component to the source forest data owing to the presence of vines and lianas, and more rarely small trees or shrubs. This indicates that litter studies may be able to add depth to forest diversity surveys. The source forest also was used to test foliar physiognomic reconstructions of climate that have been proposed recently by paleobotanists as an alternative to taxonomic affinities methods. The observed climate of the area does not conform to the climatic values that were predicted by application of these new methods.