Why Costa Rica?
Upon realising we could be spending another mundane summer passing time in the quaint and silent town of Dunners, Oli and I thought it best to head off into the jungle. Oli stumbled across Cloudbridge Reserve who have their website here and their blog here. We asked whether we could spend the summer up in their cloud forest. The answer? Yes. Awesome. We have to be back for our ecology field camp down in the Catlins in February, so 10 weeks, a whole semester, is what we have to muck around in the Costa Rican jungle.
According to the CIA world factbook, Costa Rica has only had two wars since the nineteenth century, dissolved its armed forces, and has intensified its tourism and technology sectors in recent years. With only 30% agriculture cover, it has 50% forest cover as opposed to NZ that has 45% agriculture and only 30% forest it seems its already on a good footing from a conservation perspective.
What could we possibly be doing for 10 weeks?
First and foremost we will be trying to avoid attack from the pumas, the jaguars, the snakes, the tarantulas, the dodgy humans, and other dangers. As for the mission, Oli and I spent a few weeks planning an experiment to conduct in the Catlins for our ecology field camp. Instead of going into that blind, thought about getting some practice, innit? Our research project is to determine whether rotting logs harbour different invertebrates than surrounding soils. There are birds, fungus, and plants, bats and other organisms that specifically use wildwood as habitat and we are investigating whether invertebrates can be added to the list if they are using dead wood as habitat too.
In addition to our invertebrate study there is a data deficit on a species of native rabbit up in the mountains predicted to be being pushed higher and higher by a range of factors. To get the ball rolling on them we plan on distributing some chew cards around their range which will hopefully entice them and other mammals to feed on them. If we hook up a camera trap to capture them at the same time we can get a good idea of some of the mammals around the area and calibrate their bite marks into a guide. Along with some scat surveys this should really help add some information that can go into estimates and models for later studies.
While doing all of this, Oli, I can imagine, will be lens deep in reality capturing everything he possibly can with camera and mic. A decent amount of footage along with a bunch of free time will mean we can chuck a fairly bad-ass documentary together. Thanks a whole-lot to Auckland Camera Centre for all the sweet gear they were able to donate us for filming and capturing this awesome place.
Where is Cloudbridge?
Specifically, it is at the coordinates 9.4702° N, 83.5803° W, so pretty damn close to the equator. Generally, it is in Central America, neighbouring Costa Rica’s biggest national park, Cerro Chirripó National Park. Mt Chirripó is Costa Rica’s highest mountain at 3820 m. As for the reserve itself, I’ll be updating this as we dig deeper under some rot.