Diversity of Diversity

So, yeah, it’s been a while.

Long story short, I wrapped up the high school course and moved to a new project up in Guanacaste. I wasn’t able to upload photos from my camera, and rarely had the time or bandwidth to post much of anything. So there’s a lot to catch up on. On top of that, this new monkey project has me constantly exhausted and extremely busy, and it’s only been a few days. I think I’ll upload older, pre-written posts every few days, which will give me enough time to put this current experience into words that aren’t swears and groans.

Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah, I wrote this down about a week ago.

One lesson I have to learn over and over again is that, in the tropics, niche habitats are infinitely nested. Even in a country roughly the size of West Virginia (check your encyclopedia–it’s true), which you can carve up into regions, then divide further into life zones, and even further into Reserves–there is still enough local variation in biodiversity to make two similarly categorized places seem like two different worlds.

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With some of the animals right out in the open. I literally took this shot from my bed.

Case in point: Monteverde and Las Cruces. Both Cloud Forest. Both, technically, on the Pacific Slope of Costa Rica. Both affected by similar weather patterns. But countless other factors, from historic human influence to micro-micro-climates cause these forests to look and feel unique.

Here, monkeys and coatis are rare and shy. Agoutis are so bold and common we’re practically tripping over them. Bird assemblages are different, although many migrants show up in both places.

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Like Motmots: grumpy and judgmental looking in multiple habitats.

The biggest difference, though? Weather. Here, fog is thicker and more present, especially in the evening. Many of our dinners are enjoyed enveloped in a grayish, light scattering void, with the silhouettes of trees and valley ridges popping in and out of view. It’s pretty dramatic.

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Missing the forest for all the clouds.

None of this is a complaint, by the way. I’m racking up new species and seeing plenty of flashy new megafauna to keep the students moderately engaged, at least. Night hikes have yielded glass frogs, a kinkajou, crested guans, and, of course, large bugs.

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A crested guan here, harassing a hawk, lower right. Because rare and exotic or not, animals are generally still a-holes.

Keep ’em coming.

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