The students here at the SFS Center for Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies are currently in the midst of their Directed Research Projects. I am working with the professor in Natural Resource Management to determine bird biodiversity at different organic cacao farms in the Bocas Del Toro region. I hope to determine if there is some sort of relationship between bird biodiversity levels and the specific management practices of the different cacao farms. A few days ago, we were lucky enough to visit to biodiversity hotspots in the Bocas del Toro region, Bird Island and the Soropta Canal. The trips were organized because it is important to build an understanding of the diversity that can be found in the natural environment in Bocas Del Toro, in order to compare with the diversity recorded at the cacao farms.

Bocas Del Toro has extremely high bird biodiversity and hundreds of species can be found in the region. The excursion to the island and canal allowed us to witness first-hand many of the widely varying species present in Bocas Del Toro. Bird Island is a small island located off of the western coast of Isla Colon. Because of its important role as a bird nesting ground, the region was declared a nature preserve number of years ago. However, boat tours can still take you to the coast of the island to observe the multitude of nesting species on the island. These include remarkable species like the Tropicbird. In the entire Caribbean region, this distinctive species can be found only on this one tiny island.

The Soropta Canal is known in the Bocas Del Toro region as a bird biodiversity hotspot and is popular for birdwatching tours. The canal was manmade, yet has transformed into an extremely important habitat for a wide variety of different avian, aquatic, and terrestrial species. One of the more remarkable looking species that we saw at Soropota Canal was the beautiful Purple Gallinule pictured below.

The Purple Gallinule at the Soropota Canal. Just one of the many bird species that we managed to see at the canal. Photo: Marcus Van Ginkel

A segment of Bird Island that provided nesting grounds for the Tropicbird. Photo: Marcus Van Ginkel

The Terrestrial Ecology Directed Research group at Bird Island with Professor Leonor Ceballos and guide Enrique Dixon. Photo: Jeff David

→ Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies Semester Program in Panama