La Selva

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Epiphyte covered tree at La Selva (c) Andrew Gray

It’s several years since I last visited La Selva Biological Research Station in the Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica, but it seems very little has changed. I originally worked here about 13 years ago with the Splendid leaf frog Cruziohyla calcarifer  (then Agalychnis calcarifer), and it’s pleasing to see that my thesis in the library here’s still in good shape.

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La Selva trail (c) Andrew Gray

This is a world class biological research station set in the middle of dense primary tropical rainforest, and which offers excellent facilities for all the studying biologists as well as having a vast network of trails. These allow access to the 1,600 hectares of protected land, which is owned by the Organisation for Tropical Studies, and to the incredible richness of flora and fauna that occurs within it.

La Selva itself extends to the Braulio Carrillo National Park through a forest corridor. This reserve, consisting of both La Selva’s protected environs and the Park, contains more than 2,000 vascular plants, including 700 species of trees. The fauna is similarly diverse, and La Selva is home to 120 species of mammals, including howler, spider and white-faced monkeys, jaguars, and 60 species of bat. Thousands of arthropod species have been recorded at La Selva and half of Costa Rica’s bird species.

Golden Eyelash Viper, Bothriechis schlegelii (c) Andrew Gray, 2013

Golden Eyelash Viper, Bothriechis schlegelii                 (c) Andrew Gray, 2013

Amphibians and reptiles are also extremely numerous here, and over the past few days I’ve witnessed some species I was particularly interested in seeing. These included some newly metamorphosed leaf frog froglets (Agalychnis  saltator), which had just emerged from the Cantarana (singing frog) swamp, and a beautiful young Golden Eyelash Viper (Bothriechis schlegelii) perched on a palm frond.

I now head back to San Jose, but am already looking forward to returning this summer, and to sharing this and the other wonderful places I’ve visited over the past couple of weeks with all the students and staff on the new University of Manchester field course.

           University of Manchester              Organisation for Tropical Studies

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