Tropical Field Ecology in Costarica

La Selva (3/11/09) – Wildlife at La Selva
by -- March 12th, 2009

Awoken to a chorus of birds, I find the amount of wildlife at La Selva both overwhelming and inspiring.

The two toed sloth found our first morning at La Selva.

The two toed sloth found our first morning at La Selva

The two toed sloth found our first morning at La Selva

Yesterday I woke up to a chorus of birds outside my window at La Selva Biological Station. I have never been to a true rainforest and since arriving Tuesday afternoon I have been overwhelmed with the amount of diversity here.

The forest is completely different from the forest at Palo Verde. Bare decidiuous trees are replaced by lush palms that tower over layers of undergrowth. I am in awe of how much life a single tree can support here in the humid lowland tropical rainforest. As we were led by the station’s botantist through second growth and old growth forest yesterday, I discovered that finding bromeliads, vines, orchids, frogs, ants, lizards and birds on a single tree is not a rare occurrence. Within two hours we saw a two toed sloth (Choloepus didactylus), great green macaws (Ara ararauna), poison dart frogs, chestnut mandibled toucans (Ramphastos swainsonii), and collared peccaries (Pecari tajacu) along with some of the over 2000 plant species found here.

As I stood on the trail this morning watching a sloth groom itself on a tree near the river I realized that the rainforests I have seen on tv pale in comparison to the real thing. Watching the sluggish creature comb through it long grey fur, I became hopeful for wildlife.  It is inspiring to know that places with such a rich natural history still exist. With three more days here, I’m excited about what we’ll find next.

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