Greater Antillean Moist Forests

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Royal palm (Roystonia regia), Sierra del Rosario, Cuba.
© WWF-Canon / Michel ROGGO

About the Area

This Global ecoregion is made up of 4 terrestrial ecoregions: Puerto Rican moist forests; Hispaniolan moist forests; Jamaican moist forests; and Cuban moist forests. The moist forests of the Greater Antilles maintain an exceptionally distinctive variety of tropical plants and animals.

These large islands have long been isolated from surrounding continents and have thus retained several ancient species in addition to evolving many unique groups.

Puerto Rican moist forests are spectacular, with trees reaching 34 m (110 ft) in height and 2.5 m (8 ft) in diameter. Nearly 200 tree species are found in these ancient forests.

Many of the primitive and ancient lineages that still survive in the Greater Antilles are now extinct on nearby continents. Cuba, in particular, has a rich flora as well as a diverse land snail fauna.

Size:
83,000 sq. km (32,000 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests

Geographic Location:
Larger islands of the western and northern Caribbean Sea: Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico

Conservation Status:
Critical/Endangered

Local Species
Endemic animal species include the critically endangered and threatened Hispaniolan hutias (Isolobodon portoricensis and Plagiodontia aedium) - a muskrat-sized rodent, the rare nez longue or solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus) - a small insectivorous mammal, the Cuban tody (Todus multicolor) - a member of the Greater Antillean tody family Todidae, and the endangered homerus swallowtail butterfly of Jamaica (Papilio homerus).

Several birds are endemic to individual islands and their forests. For example:
  • Jamaica: arrow-headed warbler (Dendroica pharetra) and Jamaican woodpecker (Melanerpes radiolatus)
  • Hispaniola: the grey-crowned palm tanager (Phaenicophilus poliocephalus), white winged warbler (Xenoligea montana), and the Hispaniolan trogon (Priotelus roseigaster)
  • Cuba: yellow-headed warbler (Teretistris fernandinae), and Zapata sparrow (Torreornis inexpectata)
  • Puerto Rico: elfin-woods warbler (Dendroica angelae), Puerto Rican parrot (Amazona vittata), and Puerto Rican bullfinch (Loxigilla portoricensis)
In addition, there are 275 endemic plant species in Jamaica's Blue and John Crow Mountains.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Helmut DILLER
Hispaniolan solenodon or Haitian solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus) drawing.
© WWF-Canon / Helmut DILLER

Featured Species

 / ©: WWF-Canon / Michel ROGGO
Cuban tody (Todus multicolor), Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Res, Cuba.
© WWF-Canon / Michel ROGGO
The Cuban tody (Todus multicolor) is endemic to Cuba and is thought to be the oldest surviving member of the tody family. All 5 species of this tropical bird are confined to the Greater Antilles. It is found in a variety of habitats mainly forest and woodland where it feeds on caterpillars, insects and spiders.

It is bright green above and pale grey below and has a bright red throat patch which bristles out during its hard, chattering call. Its eyes are blue and there is a blue patch on the side of the neck as well as some blue on the shoulder of the wing. The flanks are pink.

It nests in burrows in earth or sand banks or holes in rotten logs where it lays 3 white eggs.

Read more:
WWF’s work
Climate change impacts are being felt across Latin America, ranging from drought in the Amazon to floods in Haiti, from vanishing glaciers in Colombia to hurricanes across Central America and southern Brazil. A reason for this change is the active deforestation of the global forest cover.

On 25 May 2005, WWF and the World Bank announced an ambitious global programme aimed at reducing global deforestation rates by 10% by 2010.
Known as the World Bank/WWF Alliance for Forest Conservation & Sustainable Use (Forest Alliance), the programme will support the establishment of new forest protected areas such as national parks, more effective management of forest protected areas, and improved management of forests outside of protected areas. The Alliance will also help to facilitate regional cooperation and the adoption of policies in support of more effective forest management.

Read more:

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