Our first night in San Jose, Costa Rica. Here is our first chance to sample real Costa Rican food. Everyone looks so clean!
The large figures in the back are used in local parades.
After a brief orientation, we explore the city and the topic of Urbanization with Humans in the Tropics instructor Gisella Fernandez.
The next morning we begin a 2 week field trip to explore Costa Rica's biodiversity. Here is our first stop: the oak forest, bamboo thickets and paramo above 3000 meters altitude.
Katherine finds a once common but now rare mountain salamander (Bolitoglossa pesrubra). This is endemic to one mountain range in Costa Rica, which means it is found only there. This is one of many tropical montaine amphibians whose populations are in decline.
The Fiery-throated Hummingbird is another highland endemic. Tropical Biology instructor Adam Stein (below with red backpack straps) points it out and later gives a brief lecture on why so many bird species are endemic to tropical mountain peaks.
The next morning we are in boats exploring mangrove forests.
Will examines the leaves of Mora megistosperma (sometimes oleifera) along the Rio Sierpe in the Southwestern part of Costa Rica. This is in the bean family (Fabaceae).
From the boat we see a large American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) on the shore.
David climbs on some mangrove roots to get a closer look.
Far from the crocodile, we swim for a little while in the Rio Sierpe. After, we continue down river and into the Pacific ocean on our way to Corcovado.
Nina and Maxine.
Cassidy, Jessica and Will exploring Corcovado's lowland rainforest.
Class on the beach of Corcovado National Park.
Katie reviews her notes after a long day of exploring.
Tony does the same but looks a little sleepy.
A typical Corcovado sunset. In all, we spent four nights in Corcovado.
learned about lowland tropical rainforests...
tapirs (three in one day!)...
snorkelled around the nearby island called Isla del Caño...
took a swim or two...
and learned about beach ecology.
From Corcovado, we made our way up the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Once outside the forest, we stopped and talked about some important land uses, like banana (Musa acuminata)...
and African Oil Palm (Elaeis guineensis)
which is the leading cause of deforestation in many parts of Asia.
We spent a morning exploring Carara National Park, which is about halfway up the Pacific Coast.
Carara National Park is only 5,000 hectares (1 hectare = 2.5 acres), but is the only remnant tropical moist forest along the Pacific coast that hasn't been converted to oil palm or cattle pasture.
The Green and Black poison dart frog (Dendrobates auratus) lives in the leaf litter of Carara. It apparently gets its toxicity from eating certain ants.
A large mating pair of millipedes (Nyssodesmus python) help decompose Carara's leaf litter.
From Carara, we kept going North to Santa Rosa National Park, where we camped for four nights.
Santa Rosa is a lowland tropical dry forest. It has a dry season of over five months. During this time, it doesn't rain at all. Even though it looked green in June, if you were to go back in March it would be very brown and most plants would be leafless.
Our campground became a makeshift classroom where we learned about leaf morphology.
Lily, Kathy and Maricel made delicious food for us while we were out working.
Michael and Anna gathering data on mutualistic Acacia ants for a group experiment. Other groups worked on bird nest site selection or fig and fig wasp interactions.
Will, David, Karen and Marny take seat in the dry forest as they hear about how important successional changes taking place in the park.
A 13 km hike to the beach is a cause for celebration.
A brief history lesson at La Casona of Santa Rosa, where U.S. adventurer William Walker's army was defeated as they tried to take over Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
We go to Las Pumas Rescue Center and see five of Costa Rica's six species of wild cats, including the jaguar. Unfortunately, the cats cannot be released into the wild for various reasons.
A waterfall break on our way to Monteverde.
Arriving at the Monteverde Biological Station.
Hiking up to the ridge of the Monteverde Cloud Forest.
The Elfin Forest at 1800 meters behind the Biological Station. Monteverde is known for its epiphytes, like many orchids, that live on trees. Monteverde has more species of described orchids than anywhere else.
Most of Monteverde's orchids are very small. This is a Platystele sp.
A visit to a local coffee farm for Humans in the Tropics. This is a traditional farm with a mix of crops around the coffee.
David and Anna on the canopy bridge in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve. David studied the impact of tourism on mammals in the reserve for his independent project.
Karen, Jessica and David in the Cloud Forest. Jessica studied changes in the flowering and fruiting phenology of Cloud Forest understory plants in the reserve for her project.
Marissa feeds a calf during a Humans day that explores local livestock practices.
Cassidy climbing a local strangler fig.
Inside a strangler fig.
With instructor Adam in the forest.
Tony and Katie examine flowers for an arthropod diversity lab.
Life in the canopy.
Maxine on her way to Eladio's cabin in the middle of the Children's Eternal Rainforest.
Mealtime at Eladio's cabin.
David meets a red eyed tree frog on a night hike.
With TA Moncho (purple) admiring a rainforest viper.
Maxine works on a wood bowl during a Humans in the Tropics day that studies Forestry.
Hiking to swim in some local hot springs.
Katie with her home stay family.
Will presents the results of his study on epiphyte placement in trees at different altitudes.
This is a small sample of many wonderful adventures in learning for the Summer Tropical Ecology & Conservation group for 2014. Many thanks to all of you. We wish you the best.
If you like what you see, come and join us!