Habitats of Grand Cayman
  • The dry forests of the Cayman Islands are quite distinct on each of the three islands. They generally occur on land that is at least 6ft above the groundwater table. They are classified as lowland semi-deciduous forests and are typically dominated by Red Birch (Bursera simaruba) and Cabbage Trees (Guapira discolor).
  • Seasonally flooded forests include the Royal Palm forests of east interior Grand Cayman, where West-Indian Mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni) and Bull Thatch (Thrinax radiata) also are common.
  • Mangrove forests are extensive on Grand Cayman and Little Cayman, variously dominated by Red, Black and White mangroves (Rhizophora mangle, Avicennia germinans and Laguncularia racemosa), with Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus) mixed in where the salinity is lower.
  • Dry shrublands occur mainly in the eastern ends of all three islands, though they also occur in specialized forms in western Little Cayman, and on the edge of the Bluff cliffs on Cayman Brac. They tend to be dominated by Corato (Agave caymanensis) and Wild Cocoplum (Savia erythroxyloides).
  • Coastal shrubland on beach ridges is naturally very dominated by Sea Grape (Coccoloba uvifera). Following extensive housing and tourism construction many of these beach ridges are now over-run with alien invasive species, notably by Australian Pines and Beach Naupaka.
  • Mangrove shrublands include extensive interior Buttonwood wetlands, as well as mixed mangrove communities in saline and brackish wetlands with a limited nutrient supply.
  • Rocky ironshore coasts on all three of the Cayman Islands support very low, dwarfed woody vegetation adapted to constant salt spray. Buttonwood “trees” grow flat along the rocks, and appear to survive to a great age.
  • Natural herbaceous plant communities of the Cayman Islands are limited to sedge and grass wetlands, tidally flooded succulent vegetation, and some beach sand communities. Grassland communities now present in all three islands are a consequence of human activities.
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