• A review of tropical dry forest ecosystem service research in the Caribbean – gaps and policy-implications

      Nelson, Howard; Devenish-Nelson, Eleanor; Rusk, Bonnie; Geary, Matthew; Lawrence, Andrew; University of Chester;University of Edinburgh; Grenada Dove Conservation Programme
      Tropical dry forests (TDFs) are globally threatened, yet remain poorly studied. In the Caribbean, the most biodiverse of island biodiversity hotspots, TDFs have structural properties distinct from the Neotropical mainland and are important to local communities for ecosystem services. We undertook a systematic review (n = 186) of ecosystem services literature of Caribbean TDF. Only 19.89% qualified for inclusion, with the majority (56.76%) from primary literature. Research on supporting services (31.14%), particularly primary production was predominant. Most studies (70.97%) took a biophysical perspective and quantification focused on the supply of ecosystem services (43.00%), while measurement of wellbeing benefits were uncommon. Geographic coverage of all studies was patchy originating from only nine of 28 independent countries and dependent territories. Our findings highlight a lack of research, while accentuating the value of grey literature in quantifying cultural services. Of concern, are gaps in air- and water-related services and the importance of TDF to human health. To move from biophysical assessments to a broader portfolio of ecosystem services studies, research on Caribbean TDF should be collaborative and strategic. Such gaps and research biases suggest opportunities for evidence-led policy-making. These lessons are relevant for mainstreaming ecosystem services into decision-making in Small Island Developing States.