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Projects for Rainforest Research Supported by
Veragua Foundation

Projects Are Committed to Promote Education, Investigation and Respect for the Caribbean Basin

The projects are the result of research carried out jointly between Veragua Rainforest and the University of Costa Rica.

 

Another important contribution was that of local researchers, without which this would not be possible.

These projects aim to involve naturalists and volunteers to become new researchers. It is also intended to raise environmental awareness in a community with limited access to education.

One goal of this sector is to generate interest in the scientific community, as well as to invite other researchers to participate in ongoing projects in the Park.

Research projects

Amphibians and Reptiles

Authors: Salazar-Zuñiga, J.A. Chaves-Acuña, W. Mora-Camac, G.Gutierrez-Vannucchi. A.C. Brenes-Andrade, J. Gutierrez, J. Ossenabach, I. Abarca, J.I. Bolaños, F.

 

Some of the species of frogs of the Dendrobatidae and Aromobatidae families show bright warning colors associated with the high level of toxins in their skin, while others have cryptic colors. In addition, most of them are characterized by aggressive behavior for defending their territory.

Due to the immense diversity of diurnal frogs from the Dendrobatidae and Aromobatidae family in the park, this project attempts to understand how a community of 5 species of these frogs interact. The project aims to determine the peak activity of each species, the sizes of the territories of each speciesthe overlapping edges of the acoustic interferences between males of the same and alternate species, as well as to analyze whether there are other types of interaction within and between species.

This project will be divided into several aspects in order to deal with each species separately, work will be done simultaneously to overlap the data generated for each species in an attempt to understand the behavior of a community of frogs.

Authors: Salazar-Zuñiga, J.A. & W. Chaves-Acuña

 

Rocket frog species (Anura: Aromobatidae) are highly territorial and many have been reported to display aggressive behaviors towards co-specific and hetero-specific intruders. In case of an invasion towards a male´s territory, the resident can respond back by attacking the intruder either physically or acoustically. These type of agonistic responses have been accurately measured with multimodal stimuli, which enhances aggressive behaviors in dendrobatoid males (Fig. 1). Throughout several experimental designs, we have come up with a real-size artificial model that can be manipulated in order to mimic an intrusion of a co-specific (e.g. vocal sac movement, rotatory movements, playback calls, and colors). However, territorial behaviors might be influenced by anti-predatory strategies that may benefit more conspicuous species to broaden their movement patterns (e.g. approaching an intruder).

The Talamancan rocket-frog is a cryptic species that continuously calls during the day and have been observed to present aggressive behaviors during field surveys. For this study, we recorded males in order to get a mean value for the population´s temporal and spectral acoustic parameters. We also carefully painted models considering the same coloration patterns of the species to be tested. When applying multimodal stimuli to males, we recorded their agonistic encounter calls during experimental treatments, and videotaped all male responses during a 10-minute interval.

We intend to describe specific aggressive responses from this cryptic species and any bio-acoustical variations during agonistic encounters. In this project, we also mean to test whether inter-note interval elicits dishonest calling cues and/or more phonotactic displays by males of A. talamancae.

Figure 1. Rocket-frog male approaching the multimodal stimulus during field trials.

Authors: Chaves-Acuña, W., E. Moreno, A. García, L. Sandoval, G. Barrantes & P. Paul-Biton

 

Since multimodal signals (visual and acoustic) mediate over reproductive and territorial aspects of poison dart frogs (Anura: Dendrobatidae), warning signals are expected to function on co-specific interactions. Recently, a strong phylogenetic approach by Santos et al. (2014) concluded that advertisement calls diversify in response to aposematism. Hence, selective pressures should act towards mechanisms of co-specific signals.

This study aims to determine the effect of visual and acoustic signals over the aggressive responses of Oophaga pumilio males when being faced with a progressive invasion of a co-specific intruder. In order to improve the visual stimulus of the real-size model, we previously measured color parameters with a spectrogram, which allow us to accurately paint the puppets with the mean color value for the population to be tested. Furthermore, the acoustic stimuli will be played using Bluetooth connected to a specialized loudspeaker placed beneath the artificial puppet.

Given the fact that males´ agonistic responses are probably affected by the size and shape of their territory, we mean to manipulate the invasion of a co-specific intruder by moving the puppet with a pulley that pulls a stripe, attached to the puppet, back and forth . In this case, when facing a progressive co-specific invasion, urging agonistic responses in dendrobatids will indicate the extent to which males expose themselves to predators. We suggest the hypothesis that conspicuous colorations (color-brightness) affect aggressive responses in O. pumilio males. After trials, males will be measured according to their snout-vent-length and their coloration values. We expect two independent results regarding phonotactic and acoustic responses, in which brighter males are to be more aggressive (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. Male of Oophaga pumilio from La Selva displaying phonotactic responses during field trials.

REFERENCES

Santos, J.C., M. Baquero, C. Barrio-Amorós, L.A. Coloma, L.K. Erdtmann, A.P. Lima & D.C. Cannatella. 2014.

Aposematism increases acoustic diversification and speciation in poison frogs. Proceedings of Royal Society B 281, 20141761.

Authors: Salazar-Zuñiga, J.A. Brenes-Andrade, J. Gutierrez-Vannucchi. A.C. Chaves-Acuña, W. Azuguru, N. Gutierrez, J. Abarca, J.I. Bolaños-Vives, F.

 

The tiger frog is considered very rare in the country and according to the IUCN there is little information on the species. We decided to begin a study of natural breeding sites and discovered that it uses very specific sites which are disappearing, owing to the destruction of habitat in recent years. Each site consist of a medium-sized hole in a tree, where small amounts of water accumulate and where the hatching of tadpoles occurs.  Because of this situation we created artificial sites within the forest where the species could reproduce. The project was very successful and within a year and a half we have data on more than 200 egg masses.

At each site we put a camera and sound recorders to monitor activity and to answer questions such as: When are the peaks of activity? What are the environmental variables that affect the reproduction activity? Does the moon affect the reproduction activity? and, Is competition between males a given?

We also took a systematic control of each egg mass that prompted the following questions: How many eggs per female? How long is the development? Who are the predators of the egg masses? What is the hatching success?

Also, a sample of embryos was collected from each egg mass for DNA testing to give us an idea of the state of the population and answer the questions: Who is the alpha male? and,  How often are the same guys playing? Through this project it was easy to see predation by snakes, interaction between males (fighting, competition), parasitism in the egg masses, and tadpole competition in the water.

Authors: Chaves-Acuña, W. Salazar-Zúñiga, J.A. Bolaños, F. Chaves, G.

 

In the Tropics, amphibians are known for their wide variety of reproduction modes. Among these, glass frogs emerge as a unique and delicate group, endemic to the New World, that lack pigmentation on their belly, making internal organs such as the heart and liver to become visible through their skin. These interesting anurans can be found along the vegetation surrounding streams, where the calls of different species can be located during nocturnal surveys.

One of the most interesting projects being conducted by the Veragua Rainforest`s Research Team deals with the reproductive ecology of the Talamancan glass frog, an almost unknown and endangered species. This work provides details on how the males take care of the egg masses, as well as it also analyzes how efficient is this behavior towards the embryo`s survival rate. This natural phenomenon, also referred to as paternal care, can be found in some species of the genus Hyalinobatrachium, although the Talamancan glass frog`s (Hyalinobatrachium talamancae) males happen to vary the way they protect their newborns. In contrast to other species that sporadically protect their egg masses during night time only, the Talamancan glass frog presents paternal care on both, day and night time. This species is not only characterized by having a green dorsal line going through the middle of the back, but also because it presents yellow spots on their back too. This morphological description comes to be critical when understanding why males can almost blend in perfectly with the egg mass (eggs are yellow during the first larval stages), avoiding predation events by animals that locate by visual cues.

Given the fact that these frogs actually call from the underside of the leaf, eggs are exposed to dehydrating conditions due to the fact that they would lack the rain drops that would keep them moist. In order to solve this problem, males are likely to display a multi task performance by positioning themselves on top of the egg mass, while they also call for potential mates. Many authors have suggested that, when males directly touch the egg mass, a hydrating mechanism is enhanced between the male body fluids and the jelly matrix surrounding the eggs.

Although this behavior is essential when interpreting the evolutionary implications of reproductive modes among anurans, much is still unknown in regards to many aspects of the glass frogs` behavior. Therefore, the most recent study with the Talamancan glass frog seeks to analyze how the condition of taking care of an egg mass affects the calling acoustic activity of the males. Although paternal care is quite common among this species, when taking night walks, lonely males can be seen calling from either the upper side or lower side of the leave. With this on mind, we decided to compare several calling features of the males` vocalizations in order to determine if both groups differ in terms of frequencies, notes intervals and calling rate. At the same time, a formal description of the Talamancan glass frog vocalization is being reported, as well as some notes on how males seem to distribute themselves along a stream.

Authors: José Andrés Salazar-Zúñiga and Adrían García Rodríguez  

 

                     Phyllomedusa 13(1), 67-70                                                              

Anuran communication is dominated by acoustic signals; consequently, most species have well developed vocal systems that can produce a variety of sounds in different situations (Duellman and Trueb 1986). The advertisement call is the most commonly emitted sound in this repertoire; males produce this vocalization in both reproductive and territorial contexts (Gerhardt 1994, Wells 2007), and it usually is accompanied by the inflation of a vocal sac with pulmonary air (Pauly et al. 2006).

Vocal sacs occur widely in anurans and are thought to be involved in both acoustic and visual communication (Narins et al. 2003, Rosenthal et al. 2004). Despite this relevance, vocal sacs are absent in many groups such as the basal genera: Alytes, Bombina and Discoglossus (Cannatella 2006), as well as in more derived groups including some New World direct-developing frogs. An example is the Craugastor gollmeri Group that contains seven forest-floor frog species distributed from southern Mexico to Panama (Savage 2002). These species were thought not to vocalize because they lacked vocal sacs and vocal slits (Savage 1987). However, Ibañez et al. (2012) described the advertisement call of Craugastor gollmeri in Panama, providing the first evidence of vocalization in this clade.

Here we describe the previously unknown advertisement call of Craugastor noblei, another representative of the Craugastor gollmeri Group. This is the second species known to vocalize of the three in the group (C. gollmeri, C. noblei, C. mimus that occur in lower Central America (Savage 2002). Other aspects of the species, such as habitat use, daily calling activity and calling season are also briefly assessed as a contribution to the poorly known biology of this species.

Key words: advertisement call, calling activity, Costa Rica, vocal sac, vocal slits

Acknowledgments.

We thank Wagner Chaves Acuña and José Brenes Andrade for their help while recording the frogs, as well as Gerardo Chaves and Rafael Márquez for valuable comments and suggestions on early versions of the manuscript. Field work was conducted under permission No. 001-2012-SINAC. This is a contribution of Programa Institucional del Laboratorio de Autómatas y Sistemas Inteligentes en Biodiversidad (PILASIB) funded by Agencia Española de Cooperación. Internacional y de desarrollo (AECID funds D/027406/09 (2010) and D/033858 (2011).

Fig 1. Spectrogram view of the advertisement call of Craugastor noblei.

Fig 2. The Craugastor noblei

In situ conservation of one of the last remnant populations of the Lemur frog

The Lemur frog (Agalychnis lemur Boulenger 1982) is a small size tree-frog (the snout-vent length in males range 24–46 mm, while females reach up to 53 mm) listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as Critically Endangered. Even though this was once a relatively common frog species, its populations have been declining in recent years in most of its known reproductive localities across rainforest swamps of Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia. In general, its natural history and reproductive phenology are poorly understood in the wild. Hence, considering that the last remnant populations of the Lemur frog are situated in the rainforests of the Costa Rican mid-Caribbean, Veragua is a top priority site for the conservation of this species. In this project, we aim to study reproductive populations of A. lemur through an in situ conservation programme to better understand its natural history and reproductive phenology in an attempt to design accurate strategies for the preservation of some of the last natural remnant populations of the Lemur frog. Also, given that one of the most important threats faced by A. lemur is the lack of public awareness on human activities that cause detrimental effects to the forest conditions, we will conduct environmental educationseminars in local communitiesto raise awareness on the effects of anthropogenic activities on the health of natural forests where the Lemur frog inhabits.

Insects

Authors: Rojas-Valle, A. & Solano, D.

 

Underneath massive rotting logs in the forest, “harvestmen” or opilions (which are arachnids similar to spiders and scorpions) build their nests using wood debris where they mate with females. The females deposit their eggs inside the cuplike nests and leave the males with the task of taking care of the nest and eggs. However, the maintenance of a mud nest in a habitat where heavy amounts of rainfall can last for several days is not an easy job. But from our research long-lasting nests are not a guarantee that females will mate and lay their eggs in a nest. So some of the questions we are asking of the harvestmen are: What makes some nests last longer than others? And why are some nests/males more successful with mating than others?

To answer these and other questions, we are monitoring four logs in the forest for at least one year, where we are collecting data regarding general nest conditions, male presence, juvenile and females inside the nests, fungi and external factors that may affect the nests. In a parallel study we have worked with the researcher Carlos Toscano from the Clemente Estable Biological Research Institute (IIBCE) from who specifies in the reproductive behavior of arachnids.

Harvestmen Nest

Author: Julian Solano Salazar

 

The Lepidoptera order is the second largest order in the world, with more than 150,000 described species, but there are an estimated of 300,000 to 500,000 spread over all the earth (Chacon & Montero, 2007). Neotropical Region includes the highest percentage of butterfly species described worldwide, reaching an estimated 42% of the species of the families Papilionidae and Hesperidae (Lamas 2000). In Costa Rica the Lepidoptera order is present with about 13,000 species, of which about 1600 are diurnal butterflies.

This research aims to study the diversity, abundance of butterflies and the annual activity of the species in association with the kind of ecosystem and also describe the immature stages of some especies. To achieve these objectives, we have 3 systematic monitoring per month using; free collect (entomological net), light trap and fuit traps in the canopy and in the underwood.

According to the results of the latest report we have identified over 549 species distributed in 21 families. The most diverse is the family Nymphalidae with 177 species, followed by the Arctiidae family with 96 species. This list includes three species reported for the first time in Costa Rica, Memphis nenia, Adelpha Attica Attica and Dynastor macrosiris strix, all belonging to the family Nymphalidae. Tetrisia florigera species (Noctuidae), which was missing for 98 years in Costa Rica are also rediscovered In Veragua. These results will be published in scientific journals, but also will be used to establish conservation strategies in the area, as well as environmental education programs in the community and nationally.

  Light Trap       

Free collect  

Heliconius sapho leuce     

Caerois gerdrudtus   

Dryas julia  

Pdf: Papéis Avulsos de Zoologia, 52(17), 2012

Authors: Ubirajara R. Martins, Maria Helena M. Galileo and Rolando Ramírez Campos

 

New species of the genus Galissus Dupont (Coleoptera, Cerambycidae) and key to identification of the species. Galissus nigrescens sp. nov. is described from Costa Rica (Veragua Rainforest Reserve, Brisas de Veragua, Liverpool, Limón), and a key to the species is added.

Pdf.Insecta Mundi 0231, April 2012

Authors: Eugenio H. Nearns and Gérard-Luc Tavakilian

 

Abstract

Touroultia, a new genus of Onciderini Thomson, 1860 (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae: Lamiinae) is described and illustrated. Five new species of Onciderini are also described and illustrated: Jamesia ramirezi from Costa Rica; Peritrox marcelae from French Guiana; Touroultia swifti from Ecuador; Touroultia lordi from French Guiana; Trestoncideres santossilvai from Brazil. Keys to the known species of Peritrox Bates, 1865; Touroultia gen. nov.; and Trestoncideres Martins and Galileo, 1990 are provided. The following new synonymies are proposed: Calliphenges Waterhouse, 1880 (Colobotheini) = Malthonea Thomson, 1864 (Desmiphorini); Paraclytemnestra Breuning, 1974 (Onciderini) = Jamesia Jekel, 1861 (Onciderini); Orteguaza Lane, 1958 (Apomecynini) = Clavidesmus Dillon and Dillon, 1946 (Onciderini). The following new combinations are proposed: Clavidesmus funerarius (Lane, 1958) (Onciderini); Clavidesmus lichenigerus (Lane, 1958) (Onciderini); Ischiocentra insulata (Rodrigues and Mermudes, 2011); Malthonea cuprascens (Waterhouse, 1880) (Desmiphorini); Touroultia obscurella (Bates, 1865) (Onciderini). The following species is restored to original combination: Jamesia lineata Fisher, 1926 (Onciderini). The following 13 new country records are reported: Ataxia hovorei Lingafelter and Nearns, 2007 (Pteropliini) (Haiti); Carterica soror Belon, 1896 (Colobotheini) (Ecuador); Colobothea lunulata Lucas, 1859 (Colobotheini) (Colombia); Curius punctatus (Fisher, 1932) (Curiini) (Haiti); Cyclopeplus lacordairei Thomson, 1868 (Anisocerini) (Colombia); Iarucanga mimica (Bates, 1866) (Hemilophini) (Ecuador); Pirangoclytus latithorax (Martins and Galileo, 2008) (Clytini) (Costa Rica); Porangonycha princeps (Bates, 1872) (Hemilophini) (Colombia); Trestonia lateapicata Martins and Galileo, 2010 (Onciderini) (Brazil); Tulcus dimidiatus (Bates, 1865) (Onciderini (Colombia); Unaporanga cincta Martins and Galileo, 2007 (Hemilophini) (Colombia); Zeale dubia Galileo and Martins, 1997 (Hemilophini) (Colombia); Zonotylus interruptus (Olivier, 1790) (Trachyderini) (Colombia).

Mammals, birds, crustaceans and others

Author: Daniel Torres et al.

 

The list of species of Veragua Rainforest has a total of 343 sp. This list started by the initiative of Daniel Torres (Site Manager), which together with the team of researchers and naturalist guides of Veragua Rainfrest organize the Christmas Bird Count (CBC). The activity consists in making a bird monitoring for 24 hours, within a worldwide established area of 12 km diameter. This activity is in charge of a group of specialists in birds of Costa Rica, among which we highlight the decedent Julio Sanches, one of the most important researchers of Birds of Costa Rica.

The result of this activity were 408 sp, it is the largest number of species observed in Central America for a day. The cumulative species observed in the year was 478 sp; which represents more than half of birds of Costa Rica. This important diversity has already been reported to the Sistema Nacional de Areas de Conservación (SINAC), in order to promote local conservation strategies and research.

Putu Juvenile 

(Nyctibius grandis)

Authors: Dr. Ingo Wehrtmann (Museo de Zoología, Escuela de Biología, Universidad de Costa Rica); Dr. Célio Magalhães (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, Manaus, AM, Brazil) celiomag@inpa.gov.br; Dr. Fernando Mantelatto (Department of Biology University of São Paulo (USP)) flmantel@usp.br  Dayan Martin Hernández Díaz (Universidad Latina de Costa Rica, University id: 2009030124) dayan88nona@

 

The Central American region is home to a diverse fauna of Freshwater crabs (Crustacea, Decapoda, Brachyura), mainly representatives of the family Pseudothelphusidae. In Costa Rica there are several publications on these crabs and more recently, Lara et al. (in press) described the taxonomic diversity and distribution of freshwater crabs in Térraba-Sierpe, Pacific side of Costa Rica. These authors found a total of eight species divided into three genera of the family Pseudothelphusidae, representing 53% of the 15 species currently reported for Costa Rica.

In Costa Rica there are several papers on taxonomy of freshwater crabs, but its ecology is practically unknown, the same situation occurs worldwide with most of these freshwater decapods. The agreement between the School of Biology and Veragua Foundation is an excellent opportunity for ecological studies of freshwater crabs in the reserve, taking advantage of the excellent facilities and the scientific staff of the Veragua Rainforest Reserve.

This is a bilateral project (Costa Rica – Brazil) with financial support from CONICIT (Costa Rica) and CNPq (Brazil). This study aims to make a comparison in both countries of the different factors that influence the ecology of freshwater decapods. Therefore, it is possible to have the active participation of Dr. Célio Magalhães, a recognized expert in the taxonomy of freshwater crabs in Latin America, a great help to identify the crabs to the species level. This research is enrolled at the University of Costa Rica (Vice-Rector of Research No. 808-B3-504, researcher responsible: Dr. Ingo Wehrtmann).

General objective

  • Describe the taxonomic diversity and ecological aspects of species of freshwater crabs of the Veragua Rainforest Reserve

Specific objectives:

  • Identify species of freshwater crabs collected in Veragua
  • Prepare maps of the presence of different species of crabs in the reserve
  • Describe presence and abundance of crabs during a year.
  • Determine periods of reproduction and recruitment of the freshwater crabs in Veragua´s Reserve.
  • Establish a reference collection for the reserve and deposit the material in the collection of the Museum of Zoology, University of Costa Rica
  • Share the results at national and international level.

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