The sand dune ecology of the Palisadoes, Kingston Harbour, Jamaica
The Palisadoes is a 16 km tombolo forming the south border of the Kingston Harbour, characterized by dune vegetation on the southern windward side and mangrove thickets on the northern leeward side. The coastal vegetation there was investigated and characterized using four transects. Research was limited to the windward side where the little studied sand dune community exists. Vegetation attributes investigated along the transects were species composition, height, percentage vegetation cover, vegetation life form and leaf size class. Environmental parameters and variables assessed were relative humidity, air temperature, wind velocity, light intensity and salt spray. Edaphic parameters assessed were soil temperature, soil moisture, soil salinity, soil nutrient content and organic content. The sand dune community of the Palisadoes exhibits zonation indicated by change in percentage cover, height and species composition. The three zones identified (strand beach, strand dune and strand thorn-scrub) are characterized by different dominant species assemblages. Strand beach zone was characterized by a Sporobolus sp., Gomphrena sp. and Sesuvium sp. assemblage, the narrow strand dune zone by replacement with a Capparis and Calliandra assemblage and the strand thorn-scrub by further addition of a dominant Acacia-cacti assemblage. The presence of particular zones in each transect was influenced by different climatic and edaphic conditions with salt spray, soil moisture, organic content, and soil water content being important factors. Two endemic species were identified, Calliandra pilosa and Opunitia jamaicensis, compared with five in a 1953 report. Recent road realignment and widening/resurfacing development as well as environmental theft have increased the pressure on the rare and endemic species found in this sand dune community. Continued vegetation loss could impact on dune stability and integrity of Palisadoes and associated communities within Kingston Harbour.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2003-09-01
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