Thomas Schmidt ACF Abstract FY12

"Predictive niche modeling of pteridophyte community reestablishment in secondary forests of Puerto Rico"

Michigan Academy of Science, Arts & Letters

By 1950, approximately eighty-five percent of Puerto Ricos forests had been converted into agricultural systems. Since then, there has been extensive abandonment of agricultural practices initiating a steady increase of forest regeneration and thus a substantial amount of secondary forest throughout the island. Pteridophytes (ferns and fern allies) are a major component of tropical island forests constituting up to seventy percent of the flora. The secondary forests of Puerto Rico have yet to be assessed of their pteridophyte species composition and community structure (i.e., the relative abundances of constituent species). I will present a GIS-based species occurrence predictive model constructed using the program Maximum Entropy (MaxEnt) and herbarium records collected from three major herbaria in Puerto Rico, and environmental, and forest age data. The models predictions will be field tested in Summer 2012, adjusted accordingly, and used to develop a conservation management plan to be disseminated to Puerto Ricos Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, the University of Puerto Rico, and the Institute for Tropical Ecosystem Studies.