Immersed in the Rainforest

Posted: July 25, 2012

Name: Gerardo Avalos, Ph.D.
Position: Center Director
Program: Applied Research Techniques & Strategies Towards Sustainability, Costa Rica

Our students started summer 2 by hiking into the San Ramón Biological Reserve, which is located at 800 m in elevation in the Tilarán Mountain Slope, just 2 hours away from the Center. This place is mountainous and very humid, receiving about 4000 mm of rain per year. The Reserve provides access only to academic groups and researchers. Regular tourists are not allowed, since this is primarily a place that places a strong emphasis on academic education on rainforest ecology and research. The area is managed by the University of Costa Rica, and is part of the national system of conservation areas.

Here, our students were literally immersed in the rainforest. Our tropical ecologist, professor Edgardo Arévalo, implemented the first field experiment, which was looking at different techniques to quantify bird abundance and diversity. The weather at the Station is usually cold and rainy, and our visit was no exception. Despite the cold weather, professor Arévalo captured a few rare forest understory birds using mist nets. Arévalo and myself consider ourselves relatively experienced ornithologists, but there we saw for the very first time the Sooty-faced Finch (depicted in the photograph), a rare understory bird. Arévalo also captured the Green-fronted Lancebill, the hummingbird species with the longest beak in Costa Rica (I only captured it once at Cerro de la Muerte, and this is the second time I’ve see it in mist nets). Our students had a blast bush-wacking and bird-watching, and recommended that we go back to San Ramón in future trips. I couldn’t agree more.