One of the reasons for being of the Pterocarpus Forest as a public resource is its use as an open-air classroom and living laboratory for environmental education and research.

Open-air Classroom

Through educational projects the Forest can serve an “outdoor classroom” for visitors that will:

Photo: Josh Olmsted

(1) Teach the concepts, interactions and value of the increasingly scarce Pterocarpus herbaceous wetland ecology and its flora and fauna.

(2) Explain the role of Pterocarpus swamp forests in water quality, wildlife habitat and biological productivity.

(3) Facilitate conservation and create an appreciation for the Pterocarpus ecosystem and all of Puerto Rico’s natural resources.

These objectives support the goals of conservation by creating a group of educated citizens, young and old, who will be allies in the effort to preserve properties of high ecological value.

Plans for the Forest’s educational programs include the creation of educational materials for on-site as well as online use.  These include self-study guides and materials for group leaders and teachers of grades K-12.  Turabo University, as part of the research agreement, will work with the Forest to create these educational materials.

 

 

 

Research

Photo: Josh Olmsted

In the area of research, the Forest has been available for research since before it opened to the public.  Independent researchers, government scientists, and faculty and students from both the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao and the Turabo University in Gurabo have conducted scientific research within this natural gem.  The results of some of these studies will be published from time time to time on this website.

The interest of Turabo University in the Pterocarpus Forest at Palmas lead to the signing of a collaborative agreement with PHA in 2015 that allows faculty and undergraduate and graduate students in the university’s natural sciences, environmental and education faculties to conduct research on the environmental an ecological importance of wetland forests like the Pterocarpus.  In addition, the university made a commitment to prepare a forest management plan and to develop educational modules to facilitate public programming and interpretation.

Research Studies

Below are links to recent studies conducted by the U.S. Forest Service and others that included the Pterocarpus Forest as part of the research.  In some cases, as in the case of Turabo University in Gurabo, the studies were limited to the Forest, while in others, such as the study of four new species of Lichen discovered in Puerto Rico, the Forest​, which​ is home to two of the four​ species, played a more central role​.  The studies are listed in chronological order. Click on the titles for further information or to get the full text.

Puerto Rico; humedales [Puerto Rico; wetlands] (Spanish version), 1999
Authors: D.B. Adams, Jeromi M. Hefner, and Teresa Dopazo (translator)
[Full text PDF] [Full text PDF Spanish version]

Structure and composition of vegetation along an elevational gradient in Puerto Rico, October 2006
Authors: Gould, W.A.; Gonzalez, G.; Carrero Rivera, G.
[Full text PDF]

Earthworm communities along an elevation gradient in Northeastern Puerto Rico, October 2007
Authors: Gonzalez, G.; Garcia, E.; Cruz, V.; Borges, S.; Zalamea, M.; Rivera, M. M.
[Full text PDF]

Spatial and temporal heterogeneity of rainfall inorganic ion composition in northeastern Puerto Rico, March 2013
Authors: Medina, E.; Gonzalez, G.; Rivera, M. M.
[Full text PDF]

Four new species of Coenogonium (Ascomycota: Ostropales) from vulnerable forest ecosystems in Puerto Rico, Winter 2013
Authors: Mercado-Diaz, J.A.; Gould, W.A.; Gonzalez, G.; Lucking, R.
[Full text PDF]

Short-term precipitation and temperature trends along an elevation gradient in northeastern Puerto Rico, January 2015
Authors: Van Beusekom, A.; Gonzalez, G.; Rivera, M.
[Full text PDF]

Wide variety of fungi in the Pterocarpus Forest in Palmas del Mar, November 2015
Eight graduate students from Turabo University, under the guidance of Professor Sharon Cantrell-Rodriguez, an expert in Mycology and Professor in Turabo’s School of Natural Science and Technology, identified a total of 103 species of fungi in the Pterocarpus Forest in Palmas del Mar, Humacao, as part of a three-month study.

Conferences

The Pterocarpus in Puerto Rico: Importance for the Environment, 2015
by Dr. Ariel Lugo, Director of the International Institute of Tropical Forestry (USDA United States Forest Service)

Dr. Lugo has worked on a wide range of tropical and sub-tropical ecosystems: hardwood forests, mangroves, floodplain wetlands, sand pine forests, prairie lakes and palm wetlands. His current research focuses on the role of tropical forests in global processes, and on comparisons between tropical tree plantations and natural forests.

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