Beta diversity and knowledge gaps of Colombia's dry forests: implications for their conservation
On a continental scale, Neotropical dry forests exhibit high plant beta diversity, forming twelve unique floristic provinces. Conserving this diversity requires plans to protect areas in each province, based on an understanding of their particular ecological conditions. In Colombia dry forest occurs in seven regions. We explored some challenges for conserving beta diversity at the country scale by downscaling the analysis and framing it in the context of the general knowledge status of the
... status of the country's dry forests, and particularly of seed dispersal. Our literature review revealed 178 studies, with an increase in publication rate in recent years. The Cauca Valley and the Caribbean region had the most publications. More than half of studies were species inventories of plants, birds, and bats, whereas only ten studies dealt with plant-animal interactions and five with secondary succession. Analyses on plants, birds, and bats revealed high levels of dissimilarity among regions. One-half of plant species in Colombia´s dry forests are dispersed by birds and mammals. Large-sized frugivorous birds and mammals are absent from remaining forest patches, which may negatively affect patterns of seed dispersal and secondary succession. Understanding the ecological and biogeographic factors at several scales, supported by local knowledge of the ecological processes that contribute to forest integrity, is key for the conservation of the unique and distinctive species composition of regional assemblages. A coordinated research effort that integrates knowledge of ecological processes at local to national scales is a priority.