RNA: Baño de Oro
State (Commonwealth): Puerto Rico
Forest: El Yunque (formerly Carribean)
District: El Yunque
Acres: 1840 (745 ha)
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Ecological/Physical Description: Baño de Oro Natural Area was made part of the Luquillo Experimental Forest (LEF) Biosphere Reserve in 1976. It is situated at elevations between 245 and 1,025 meters in the wettest part of Puerto Rico, encompasses four major forest types. Soils range from deep alluviums in the narrow valleys to shallow, rocky ridges. Two life zones, four major forest types, and the rare Pterocarpus swamp are found within the area or bordering it. Numerous tree species, epiphytes, ferns, liverworts, and mosses characterize the vegetation. The four forest types are lower montane rain forest, montane rain forest, palm brake, and dwarf forest. Locally, these forests are known as tabonuco, colorado, palm, and dwarf forests, respectively, and host 225 species of native trees in 144 genera and 59 plant families.
Physical and Climatic Conditions
Nearest weather station, with distance and direction from RNA: Pico del Oeste and six other Luquillo Experimental Forest climatic stations located a short distance from Baño de Oro.
Annual precipitation (type, seasonal distribution): Tropical marine climate in the northeast trade wind and hurricane belt. Much of the rainfall is orographic, caused by the ascent of moisture laden trade winds over mountain barriers. Rainfall fluctuates considerably from year to year; mean annual rainfall varies between 92-157 inches (2,350-4,000 mm). Rainfall varies during the year with Feb, March, and April drier than other months and the wettest months being May, October and November. Mean annual relative humidity is >98% at summit locations. Flooding is most likely to occur between May and November, the time of maximum rainfall expectancy.
Maximum and minimum temperatures: Mean temperatures in Puerto Rico characteristically have little variation between the warmest and coolest months, and between years. Mean annual temperatures on El Yunque and Pico del Este vary from 62 degrees F (17 C) between December and March to 68 F (20 C) between August and October. Diurnal temperature variation and temperature range in any given month are larger at lower elevations than at higher elevations.
Elevation: 800 – 3,400 feet (245–1,025 m)
Geology and Soils: Baño de Oro is underlain by a complexly faulted and folded terrain composed chiefly of Cetaceous volcanic rocks, subordinate Cretaceous and /or Tertiary intrusive bodies, and minor lower Tertiary volcanic and sedimentary rocks. The underlying rocks are largely tuff, volcanic breccia, and tuffaceous sandstone and siltstone, chiefly marine. Lava probably constitutes more than 15% of the 10,000 m or deeper section and is chiefly concentrated in the lower part and locally in the middle part. Limestone occurs sporadically in the upper part of the section.
Major soil orders identified are Ultisols, occupying ~1/3 of the area, and Inceptisols, occupying the remaining areas. Generally Ultisols are confined to the largest river valleys below 600 m in elevation and Inceptisols occupy the main ridges and adjacent terrain down to 300 m in elevation. SCS (now NRCS) classified entire area as the Los Guineos–Guayabota rock land association, characterized by shallow to deep, well–drained to poorly drained, strongly sloping to very steep soils on volcanic uplands in tropical rain forests. Refer to Weaver, GTR SO–111, September 1994.
Aquatic Features: Two major rivers, the Rio Mameyes and the Rio Fajardo, have their headwaters in the Baño de Oro (figs. 2 and 4). The Rio Mameyes, made up of three tributaries with a combined river length of about 12 km, flows north draining two–thirds of the Baño de Oro. The Rio Fajardo, with one tributary, has a combined river length of 7 km. It flows north and then east, draining the remainder of the Baño de Oro. The combination of heavy rainfalls and steep slopes sometimes concentrates runoff into flows that exceed stream channels for short periods. Flooding is most likely to be associated with major rain-producing events such as tropical storms, cold fronts, or hurricanes. Flooding in the upper headwaters of the Rio Mameyes and Rio Fajardo, however, is localized and of short duration because of the steep topography.
SAF Cover Types (acres):
Lower Montane Rain Forest (920)
Montane Thicket (230)
Palm Brake (350)
Elfin Woodland (340)
At Risk Species: The Federal list of threatened and endangered species in Puerto Rico (Delgado–Mendoza and others 1990) contains the Puerto Rican parrot (Amazona vittata), the Arctic peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus tundrius), and the Puerto Rican boa constrictor (Epicrates inornatus). Additional species listed by the Commonwealth Department of Natural Resources as threatened or endangered are the sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus vendor) and two species of tree frogs, Ekutherodactylus eneidae and E. karlschmidti. Animal species classified as sensitive by the U.S. Forest Service (1990), include the three aforementioned species listed by the Commonwealth as well as the broad-winged hawk (Buteo platypterus brunnescens) and the elfin woods warbler (Denclroica angelae). Plant species on the sensitive list are: Eugenia eggersii, Laplaceaportoricensis, Marliera sintensii, Ternstroemia luquillensis, and Xylosma schwaneckeanum.
Common Shrub Species: Refer to Weaver, GTR SO–111, September 1994.
Common Herbaceous Species: Refer to Weaver, GTR SO–111, September 1994.
Common Mammal Species: Refer to Weaver, GTR SO–111, September 1994.
Common Bird Species: Refer to Weaver, GTR SO–111, September 1994.
Related Reports and Publications:
Additional reports and publications can also be found by clicking on the “RNA Publications and Products” link in the site menu or by clicking here.
Weaver, Peter L., Baño de Oro Natural Area Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico. General Technical Report SO-111, September 1994. USDA Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station, New Orleans, LA.
Last Modified: 9/29/2015 by Mary Mallinson Long (firstname.lastname@example.org)