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Biodiversity Conservation in Costa Rica

Learning the Lessons in a Seasonal Dry Forest

Gordon W. Frankie

Publication Year: 2004

The beautiful tropical dry forest of northwest Costa Rica, with its highly seasonal rainfall and diversely vegetated landscape, is disappearing even more rapidly than Costa Rica's better-known rain forest, primarily because it has been easier to convert to agriculture. This book, based on more than thirty years of study, offers the first comprehensive look at the ecology, biodiversity, and conservation status of this endangered and fragile region. The contributors, from Costa Rica, Britain, Mexico, and the United States, and representing the fields of ecology, environmental education, policy, and the law, examine the major plant and animal groups living in the dry forest and present the first technical evaluation of Costa Rica's conservation efforts.

As they assess the status of their area of specialty in the dry forest, the contributors also look beyond this particular region to show how its plants and animals are ecologically and evolutionarily connected to other geographic areas in Costa Rica and Central America. Their chapters cover topics such as watershed and coastal management, plant phenology, pollination, insects, birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. They also consider the socioeconomic, policy, legal, and political aspects of biodiversity conservation, giving the volume a wide-ranging perspective and making a unique contribution to our knowledge of the tropical dry forest. The book concludes with an important synthesis of the contributors' recommendations on future directions, policies, and actions that will better conserve biodiversity in Costa Rica and other neotropical forests as well.

Published by: University of California Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Preface

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pp. vii-x

The idea of producing this book resulted from several realizations for the editors in 1997. The first was an awareness that a large body of biological research from major regions of Costa Rica was available in the literature. In particular, extensive research had been carried out on the lowland Atlantic wet forest, ...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-12

The Chorotega region in northwestern Costa Rica is one of the most important areas of this republic; it covers primarily the Tempisque River Basin (TRB), Nicoya Peninsula, and other nearby lands (see map 1.1). The country’s only seasonal dry forest is located here. ...

Part 1. Biodiversity and Ecological Studies

Section A. Costa Rican Dry Forest

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pp. 15-16

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2. Flowering Phenology and Pollination Systems Diversity in the Seasonal Dry Forest

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pp. 17-29

When comparing Neotropical life zones, one of the first generalizations to emerge is that seasonal dry forests have lower species diversity than wetter or more aseasonal life zones (Janzen 1983; Bullock et al. 1995). This pattern is easily recognized. The species-level count, however, is only one aspect of a much larger picture of biodiversity. ...

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3. Breeding Structure of Neotropical Dry-Forest Tree Species in Fragmented Landscapes

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pp. 30-37

Landscapes that once featured continuously distributed, seasonal dry tropical forests are now characterized in much of Central America by a matrix of pastures and agricultural lands punctuated by occasional patches of remnant forest, secondary forests, and narrow riparian forest corridors. ...

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4. Impact of Global Changes on the Reproductive Biology of Trees in Tropical Dry Forests

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pp. 38-47

The most spectacular feature of tropical dry forests of Guanacaste is perhaps the mass flowering of many tree species during the dry season. As the dry season begins toward the end of December, a number of species start to bloom, displaying flowers of various shapes, sizes, and colors in the leafless canopy until the end of April (Janzen 1967; Frankie et al. 1974). ...

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5. Tropical Dry-Forest Mammals of Palo Verde: Ecology and Conservation in a Changing Landscape

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pp. 48-66

Mesoamerica contains some of the world’s most diverse forests. It has at least 20 major life zones, based on variations of temperature and precipitation that can be broadly summarized in five tropical forest types—dry forest, wet forest, montane forest, coniferous forest, and mangrove swamp (Holdridge et al. 1971). ...

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6. The Conservation Values of Bees and Ants in the Costa Rican Dry Forest

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pp. 67-79

Over the past 30 years of solitary-bee studies in the Costa Rican dry forest we have observed a steady decline in native solitary-bee populations. In 1972 bee diversity was surveyed from a small population of the fabaceous tree Andira inermis, at a site just south of the town limits of Liberia (see maps in chapter 1). ...

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7. Ecology of Dry-Forest Wildland Insects in the Area de Conservación Guanacaste

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pp. 80-96

Tropical dry forest (Murphy and Lugo 1986; Bullock et al. 1995) once occupied at least 60 percent of the forested tropics. Today, it is largely eliminated (Janzen 1988a). Where present, it is almost entirely in some complex state of incomplete and iterative secondary succession ...

Section B. Biotic Relationships with Other Costa Rican Forests

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pp. 97-98

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8. Diversity, Migration, and Conservation of Butterflies in Northern Costa Rica

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pp. 99-114

Migration can be simply defined as a sustained, directional movement by an animal that takes it out of one habitat and into another (Dingle 1996), and this is the definition used here. It distinguishes migrating behavior from local movements within an animal’s home range that tend to be nonlinear, of short duration, ...

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9. Watershed Ecology and Conservation

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pp. 115-125

Aquatic resources represent one of the most valuable and sought-after natural treasures, although in many areas of the planet they are deteriorating. Playing a key role in climatic, ecological, and biogeochemical processes, the terrestrial water cycle is being destroyed at alarming rates (Vörösmarty and Sahagian 2000). ...

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10. Where the Dry Forest Feeds the Sea

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pp. 126-135

The Gulf of Nicoya (GN) is an estuary located in the northwestern part of the Pacific coast of Costa Rica (10° N, 85°W). The extensive hydrological connection between the GN and watersheds draining into it gives rise to one of the most prominent ecological and geographical systems of Costa Rica (maps 1.1 and 1.2 in chapter 1; chapter 9). ...

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11. Mangrove Forests under Dry Seasonal Climates in Costa Rica

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pp. 136-144

Along the 6,600-km coastline of Central America, mangrove forests are a distinctive element in the landscape. More than 340,000 ha of mangroves exist along the Pacific coast, and 225,000 ha are found on the Caribbean coast of the isthmus. These forests represent around 7 percent of Central America’s natural forest coverage ...

Section C. Biotic Relationships with Other Geographical Areas

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pp. 145-146

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12. Geographical Distribution, Ecology, and Conservation Status of Costa Rican Dry-Forest Avifauna

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pp. 147-159

In Costa Rica the dry forest covers the Santa Elena Peninsula and adjacent areas and some small areas around the Gulf of Nicoya (Slud 1980; Gómez 1986; see maps in chapter 1). Large tracts of semideciduous forest also occur below 500 m in the northwest of Costa Rica. For the purpose of this chapter, we consider deciduous, semideciduous, and other associated habitats as the dry-forest ecosystem. ...

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13. An Ultrasonically Silent Night: The Tropical Dry Forest Without Bats

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pp. 160-176

Without bats, in their varied roles as pollinators of commercially important trees, seed dispersers critical for forest succession, and consummate predators of nocturnal insects, the tropical dry-forest life zone would be a vastly different place. Despite the unquestioned importance of these common mammals, few scientific papers have dealt specifically with bat conservation until very recently. ...

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14. Biodiversity and Conservation of Mesoamerican Dry-Forest Herpetofauna

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pp. 177-193

The herpetofauna of Mesoamerica (defined as the region running south from about central Mexico through Panama) is undoubtedly one of the richest and most complex vertebrate faunas of the New World. It involves more than 210 genera, comprising approximately 693 species of reptiles and 598 species of amphibians. ...

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15. Parque Marino Las Baulas: Conservation Lessons from a New National Park and from 45 Years of Conservation of Sea Turtles in Costa Rica

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pp. 194-209

The edge of the sea marks one boundary of the tropical dry forest in Costa Rica. Just as the ocean draws Costa Ricans and foreigners to vacation spots along the Pacific coast in the summer, the beaches are a magnet for biologists, conservationists, developers, and politicians. ...

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16. Prospects for Circa Situm Tree Conservation in Mesoamerican Dry-Forest Agro-Ecosystems

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pp. 210-226

Dry forest once stretched almost continuously along the Mesoamerican (Central American/Mexican) Pacific coast, from Sonora in Mexico to Guanacaste in Costa Rica (area of 550,000 km2). Conditions suitable for dry forest also exist on the Yucatán Peninsula, the coast of the Mexican states of Puebla and Tamaulipas, ...

Part 2. Transferring Biodiversity Knowledge into Action: The Record

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17. Biodiversity Inventories in Costa Rica and Their Application to Conservation

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pp. 229-236

Biodiversity inventorying and monitoring provide essential information used by many basic scientific disciplines as well as many applied sciences such as biotechnology, agriculture, fisheries, and conservation. Most inventorying and monitoring have involved organisms that are relatively well known taxonomically— for example, vertebrates and vascular plants. ...

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18. Conflict Resolution: Recognizing and Managing Discord in Resource Protection

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pp. 237-246

There can be no greater accomplishment for a resource professional than to bring together a divergent group of individuals and interests to forge a comprehensive plan for biological conservation. Inherent in this proclamation is the recognition that multiple variables of economic, environmental, and social prejudices will play a role ...

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19. Conservation and Environmental Education in Rural Northwestern Costa Rica: Learning the Lessons of a Nongovernmental Organization

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pp. 247-256

It all started with fire! In the late 1970s members of our dry-forest research team were aware that wildfires were becoming common in our general study area between Cañas and Liberia and southwesterly to the Tempisque River in Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica (see maps 1.1 and 1.2 in chapter 1). ...

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20. The Media and Biodiversity Conservation

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pp. 257-265

For hundreds of years, humans have been in constant battle over natural resources, some for their exploitation and others for their protection and preservation for the future. One of the first people in North America—if not the first—to raise their voice in favor of defending wildlife territories was the legendary John Muir (Tolan 1990), ...

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21. Threats to the Conservation of Tropical Dry Forest in Costa Rica

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pp. 266-280

Approximately 550,000 km2 of tropical dry forest covered the Pacific coast of Mesoamerica at the time that the Spaniards arrived. Today less than 2 percent of this forest remains (Janzen 1988), mostly in Mexico (Trejo and Dirzo 2000). It has been estimated that the only protected sites of tropical dry forest in Mesoamerica that are large enough to possibly sustain dry-forest ecosystems ...

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22. Environmental Law of Costa Rica: Development and Enforcement

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pp. 281-288

Over the past 20 years, Costa Rica has kept pace with the evolution of environmental policy in the Central American region and the Caribbean, developing a fairly complete legal frame and, in general, a good set of policies. However, Costa Rica has also followed the general global trend, despite the importance that environmental issues have gained, ...

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23. Dispute over the Protection of the Environment in Costa Rica

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pp. 289-298

The existence of a law for practically every environmental problem (forestry law, water law, biodiversity law, and so on) has led to an entanglement of laws that are often redundant, contradictory, and ambiguous and thus hinder cooperation between institutions and limit effective action. ...

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24. The Policy Context for Conservation in Costa Rica: Model or Muddle?

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pp. 299-310

Worldwide, a debate is under way over whether we can protect biodiversity in situ, whether we should bother to try, and whether these efforts should include any areas that limit human uses. Critics have claimed that protected areas are hard to manage and therefore we should not even try, that they are too small to make a difference, ...

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25. Conclusion and Recommendations

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pp. 311-324

In order to survive, human beings must begin to consider the deterioration and destruction of natural resources as a capital loss, particularly for development and management options of future generations. Our choices are simple. Either we take care of our planet and its natural resources, ...

List of Contributors

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pp. 325-326

Index

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pp. 327-341


E-ISBN-13: 9780520937772
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520241039

Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 2004