Neotropical dry forests are recognized as one of the world’s most threatened ecosystems. At present, the accelerating loss of plant cover in these forests has caused that are restricted to a small fraction of their historic range. A better understanding of their biological diversity and the factors that control the function and structure of dry forests is a priority to develop effective conservation actions. Despite the efforts devoted to the study and knowledge of dry forests are not comparable to those in other forests of the region, especially rain forests, the work done to date has allowed describing a good part of their floristic diversity over large regions of the Neotropics, confirming the high levels of endemism of their flora, elucidating some of the factors that determine their structure, and understanding the likely causes that are driving some species to extinction.
The seasonally tropical dry forests (STDF) of the Ecuadorian Pacific region are reasonably well known in floristic terms, at least the woody species, yet other taxa such as shrubs and herbs are still poorly known. Regarding the functionality of dry forests, few studies have been conducted to understand their dynamic. The Ecuadorian Pacific region is an original habitat and refuge for a unique diversity, however the current protection is inefficient and only covers 5% of the total remaining forest. This, together with the intense anthropogenic pressure that these forests support, makes the Ecuadorian Pacific STDF a priority area of research and a key region to focus conservation national and international efforts.
The present portal reflects the progress in knowledge of dry forest ecosystems in the Ecuadorian Pacific region, at the time that it identifies existing information gaps, and evaluates the main threats and the degree of protection that these forests receive, and the implications that the current knowledge of these ecosystems may have for their conservation.