Abstract # 13187 Event # 25:

Scheduled for Thursday, August 9, 2018 10:30 AM-10:45 AM: (Chula Vista ) Oral Presentation


CAYO SANTIAGO: COMPARISON OF VASCULAR PLANTS, VEGETATION ZONES AND PLANT FOOD RESOURCES BEFORE AND AFTER HURRICANE MARIA

B. P. Marriott1, D. R. Boler2, L. Trudel3 and B. Giura4
1MUSC, Departments of Medicine and Psychiatry, Charleston, SC 19425, USA, 2Modesto College, 3MIT, 4University of Puerto Rico
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     The rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) living on Cayo Santiago (CS) have typically obtained as much as 50% of their nutrition from vegetative sources. The first systematic botanical survey of CS was conducted in 1988. The island, at that time, was identified to include 11 vegetation zones containing 163 species from 51 plant families. Since 1988, the vegetation composition and diversity has not been comprehensively evaluated. However, occasional survey samples indicated that a similar level of plant distribution and growth existed. In September, 2017 Hurricane Maria completely denuded and/or destroyed the existing vegetation on CS. Large trees were uprooted and entire barrier mangrove areas were eliminated. In December, 2017 we conducted a systematic botanical survey of the island to a) identify the existing plant species; and b) estimate the potential vegetative food sources. Three months after the storm, plant regeneration was limited and species that had been dominant in particular vegetation zones could not be found or were represented by only a few individual specimens - including plants that had been formerly identified as food sources for the monkeys. While plant species regrowth is anticipated to improve over the next year, the current diversity was extremely reduced with species that had not previously served as food sources becoming predominant.