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International students seek out Selva Verde for research opportunities

COSTA RICA NEWS

Why Selva Verde?

Selva Verde Lodge & Reserve (SVL) is home to 500 acres of primary and secondary rainforest in the lowlands of the Costa Rican rainforest. Back in the 1980’s this land was rescued by the Holbrook family for the purpose of conservation and habitat protection. More than 30 years later, the reserve is thriving and continues to provide refuge for the abundance of wildlife found within its borders. As a result, it has also become an attractive location for scientists and students wishing to study unspoiled tropical biodiversity. Not only is the wildlife vast, Selva Verde Reserve is part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, a natural biological passage way that spans eight countries (Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and Mexico) and links the North and South American continents. The corridor is essentially a series of interconnected parks, reserves and refuges that provide safe passage or respite for migratory and endemic species.

Annabelle Mall SVL thMeet SVL’s guest researcher

Annabelle Mall, B.Sc., is a post-graduate student of environmental engineering residing in Germany. She recently completed her third semester of her master’s program and was seeking an opportunity to gain cross-cultural competence and advance her practical experiences. Annabelle chose to journey to SVL for a ten-week long internship program, volunteering alongside two local biologists with research projects at SVL. Annabelle writes in her report that she chose Selva Verde, because of its prime location within the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, as well as a being a participant and holder of the Certificate for Sustainable Tourism (CST).

An inside look at the internship

Mall’s internship is ten-weeks total, with her first month completed at the end of March. “The aim for my first month was to get a first impression of the current research programs in SVL,” says Mall. Her assignment was to assist biologists, Alejandro Zuñiga and Daniel Ramírez (below, left), with ongoing research taking place in the primary and secondary 500-acre rainforest of SVL Reserve. The first 4 weeks were divided as such:

  • Week 1: Mammals Research Program
  • Week 2: Herpetology Research Program
  • Week 3: Plants and Mushrooms Research Program
  • Week 4: Data Analysis

Zuniga Ramirez SVL thEach research program employed different methodologies, which Mall recollects in detail in her report. The mammalian study used methods including: footprint and fecal tracking, mist-nets (specifically for bats), and analysis of camera-trap data; the herpetology study involved capture and release methods for identification, as well as the creation of multiple transects in the forest interior to determine abundances and distribution of species within the region; the tropical flora research program was divided into two separate studies: plant research and mushroom research, and finally the last week was reserved for data analysis. For detailed description of methods, results, and conclusions, access Mall's full report here.

At this juncture conclusions are still preliminary and research is ongoing; however it is clear that the biodiversity at SVL is immense and learning more about wildlife distribution, composition, and how this changes with the seasons will be invaluable information to aid in further conservation here at Selva Verde.