Species Found in San Luis
Flora: Landscape plants, trees and orchids
Three major types of native flora converge at the UGA Costa Rica Campus: premontane species from both Pacific and Atlantic Slopes, lower montane species from higher elevations and riparian species from middle to higher elevations. This diversity of influences increases the region's biodiversity in general. It is estimated that there are at least 3,200 plants species in the Monteverde region- this is just over ¼ of the total plant diversity thought to exist in Costa Rica. In San Luis, 131 tree species have been recorded and 31 orchid species have been identified (compare that to 50 orchid species in the entire state of Georgia!). More research is necessary in order to complete the inventory of flora in the San Luis Valley. UGA Costa Rica is in the process of creating a professional herbarium collection with the support of local botanist Bill Haber, who for years worked with the Missouri Botanical Garden. UGA Costa Rica's San Luis Botanical Garden is a valuable resource in terms of plant research and collections.
Amphibians & Reptiles
There are nearly 400 species of amphibians and reptiles in Costa Rica. As with other groups of organisms, this high species diversity due in part to the great variety of ecosystems. In San Luis, there are 58 known species of amphibians and reptiles: 15 species of amphibians and 43 species of reptiles.
In recent years, researchers have paid increasing attention to reptiles and amphibians. This is partly due to their ongoing declines around the globe, which some research suggests may be linked to climate change. In Monteverde, dozens of amphibian species are believed to be extirpated or extinct, including the once-common Golden Toad (Incilius periglenes), a species endemic to Monteverde which has not been seen since 1986.
Bats are incredible nocturnal mammals. They have evolved in order to take over the empty niches left behind by the diurnal birds. Through their highly advanced navigation system, echolocation, Microchiroptera bats (New World bats) are able to fly above and under the forest canopy in search of food. In this manner they continue the ecological processes of pollination and insect control normally performed by birds during the day. There are 109 bat species in Costa Rica. This diversity represents just over half the country’s 216 mammal species, and about 12% of the world’s bat species. At least 25 species of bats are known to exist at the UGA Costa Rica Campus.
UGA Costa Rica Bird List (Upper San Luis and INVU) (updated November 2012)
Birds are one of the most conspicuous groups of organisms in the tropics. There are more than 850 bird species in Costa Rica, from which the vast majority (about 600 species) are known to be permanent residents. Of the more than 200 migratory species that reach Costa Rica every year, most come from breeding areas in North America. However, a few of the sea birds nest as far away as New Zealand, or the coasts of Antarctica or Siberia. The UGA Costa Rica bird list includes nearly 250 bird species, including permanent residents as well as altitudinal and latitudinal migrants. One interesting fact about the local avifauna is that there are certain species of Atlantic Slope birds that are regularly seen at the UGA property-- which is located on the Pacific Slope. This is because there is a mountain pass that allows these species to come across the continental divide and Abecome established in the upper part of the valley.
Butterflies and Moths
One of the most challenging tasks for the parataxonomists at the National Biodiversity Institute of Costa Rica (INBio) is to catalog the large diversity of insects found in the country. Such diversity is estimated at 365,000 species –there are thought to be between 12,000 and 14,000 species in the order Lepidoptera –butterflies and moths- alone!
Both butterflies and moths get nourishment from a variety of sources at the larval stage, however, at the adult stage, they mostly feed on nectar. Some species show aposematic coloration (bright, warning colors) at the larval and/or at adult stage to signal unpalatability to potential predators. In some cases, larval Lepidopterans have evolved to feed on toxic plants in order to obtain the metabolites that make them unpalatable.
The diversity of Lepidoptera at the UGA Costa Rica Campus is still unknown; to date, more than 150 species have been collected and can be observed in our onsite collection.
There are 107 mammal species in Costa Rica, not including bats. This diversity is represented by species that are native to both North America (e.g deer, coyotes) and South America (e.g. tapir, agouti). There are also endemic species such as the Olingo of Cartago (Bassaricyon lasius) known only in Estrella de Cartago. In San Luis more than 30 mammal species are reported excluding bats. A more profound study of the zoology of this area is needed.
Mammals play a very important role in natural ecosystems in that many of them are seed dispersers, thereby assisting the reproduction of native plants.