Data from: Changing ecological communities along an elevation gradient in seasonally dry tropical forest on Hispaniola (Sierra Martín García, Dominican Republic)
Franklin, Janet et al. (2019), Data from: Changing ecological communities along an elevation gradient in seasonally dry tropical forest on Hispaniola (Sierra Martín García, Dominican Republic), Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.v6m6454
We report the results of systematic vascular plant and bird surveys in Seasonally Dry Tropical Forest (SDTF) across leeward and windward elevation gradients (31– 884 masl) in the Sierra Martín García (SMG), Dominican Republic. We expected to see gradual, systematic changes in plant distributions with elevation owing to the strong effect of topoclimate. In contrast, we predicted bird community composition to be related only weakly to elevation, because we expected bird distributions to be more strongly related to vegetation structure than composition. Based on 48 vegetation transects, we identified seven groups that differed in their species composition, which was correlated with elevation and precipitation. The most distinctive vegetation community occurs in dry, warm, low elevations on the leeward slope, featuring large numbers of non-woody indicator species (those species found frequently within one group but not in other groups) even though most of its trees and shrubs represent species that are widespread. Low rainfall and shale bedrock (rather than limestone) may be the primary drivers of distinctiveness in the low elevation leeward plots. On the leeward slope, where we also surveyed the birds, the vegetation community changes gradually with elevation at mid- to high elevations. The most distinctive bird community also was associated with the low-elevation forest on shale bedrock and was dominated by widespread species. At higher elevations, but still within leeward SDTF, the bird communities had a stronger component of species endemic either to Hispaniola or to Caribbean islands, and species turnover did not correspond to the elevation gradient.
National Science Foundation, Award: GSS-1461496