PCB 2340C – Field Biology:

A Tropical Education Program in Costa Rica

Costa Rican Ecology Resources

Foundational Reading – The Top Five “Must Reads”

Forsyth, Adrian & Miyata, Ken. Tropical Nature: Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central and South America. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1984.

Janzen, Daniel H.  Costa Rican Natural History. University of Chicago Press. 1983

Kricher, John. A Neotropical Companion: An Introduction to the Animals, Plants, and Ecosystems of the New World Tropics. Princeton University Press, 1990.

McDade, L.; Bawa, K; Hespenheide, H. & Hartshorn, G.; Editors. La Selva - Ecology and    Natural  History of a Neotropical Rain Forest. University of Chicago Press, 1994.

Nadkarni, Nalini &  Wheelwright, Nathaniel. Monteverde: Ecology and Conservation of a Tropical Cloud Forest. Oxford University Press. 2000


Foundational Reading – “The Best of the Rest”

Allen, William. Green Phoenix – Restoring the Tropical Forests of Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Oxford University Press. 2001.

Alvarado, Guillermo. Costa Rica: Land of Volcanoes. Gallo Pinto Press, CR. 1993.

Boza, Mario & Mendoza, Rolando. The National Parks of Costa Rica. Industrias Graficas Alvi, S.A. 1981.    

Carr, Archie. So Excellent a Fishe. Natural History Press. 1967. 248 pgs.

Carr, Archie. The Windward Road. Alfred Knopf Publishers. 1967.

Coates, Anthony, Editor. Central America – A Natural and Cultural History. Yale University Press, 1997.

Herrera, Wilberth. Costa Rica Nature Atlas - Guidebook. Incafo, S.A. San Jose, CR,1991.

Skutch, Alexander. A Naturalist in Costa Rica. University of Florida Press. 1971, 378 pgs.  

Wallace, David Rains. The Quetzal and the Macaw: The Story of Costa Rica’s National Parks. Sierra Club Books. 1992.

Young, Allen M. Sarapiqui Chronicle: A Naturalist in Costa Rica. Smithsonian Institution     Press,1991.

Costa Rica Field and Nature Guides

Beletsky, Les. Costa Rica – The Ecotravellers’s Wildlife Guide. Academic Press. 1998.

DeVries, Phillip. The Butterflies of Costa Rican and Their Natural History. Princeton University Press. 1987.

Henderson, Carol. Field Guide to the Wildlife of Costa Rica. University of Texas Press. 2002.

Leenders, Twan. A Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica. Zona Tropical Publications. 2001.

Stiles, F. Gary & Skutch, Alexander. A Guide to The Birds of Costa Rica. Cornell University Press, 1989.

Costa Rica Travel Guides

Baker, Christopher. Costa Rica Handbook. Moon Publications, 1996. The most complete Costa Rican travel guide for individual travelers. Most detailed and accurate information, best maps, loaded with background information. 574 pages.

Murphy, Paul; Editor. Costa Rica. Insight Guides, APA Publications. 2002. Excellent color  photos and descriptions of Costa Rica - the nation, not just the travel destination. A well-researched guide to complement any of the other books that deal with hotels, parks, packing, etc. 306 pgs.

Sheck, Ree Strange. Costa Rica: Adventures in Nature. John Muir Publications, 1998. Very practical guide especially for travel in Costa Rica's natural areas. 300 pgs.

Websites pertinent to PCB 2340C – Field Biology in Costa Rica

General Costa Rican Reference

Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad                       http://www.inbio.ac.cr/en/default.html

Organization for Tropical Studies             http://www.ots.duke.edu/

COCORI Complete Costa Rica Homepage           http://www.cocori.com/index.htm

Costa Net - About Costa Rica                             http://www.costanet.com/CR_center/CR_info.html

Costa Rica             http://www.worldheadquarters.com/cgiworldheadquarters/WebX.cgi?14@^5505@.ee6b2b0\

Costa Rica Home                                               http://photo.net/cr/

Costa Rica Index                                               http://www.costa-rica.com/Costa/Navigate.html

The Costa Rican Connection                               http://www.ticonet.co.cr/CRConnection/CRConnection.html

The Tico Times Online                                        http://www.ticotimes.co.cr/

Tourism in Costa Rica

The Costa Rican Institute of Tourism                    http://www.tourism-costarica.com/

Explore Costa Rica - Educational Programs         http://www.explorecr.com/educational.htm

COCORI Complete Costa Rica Homepage           http://www.cocori.com/index.htm

Costa Rica Supersite Travel Guide to Paradise     http://www.incostarica.net/

Costa Rica Traveler                                            http://community-2.webtv.net/N0336/CostaRicaTravel/

Costa Rica's Helisa Helicopter Tours                   http://www.worldheadquarters.com/cr/helisa.html

Costa Rica'sTravel Net                                        http://www.centralamerica.com/cr/index.htm

Hotels and Lodging in Costa Rica                        http://www.tourism.co.cr/hotels.html

Orosi National Tours Travel Agency                     http://www.arweb.com/orosi/form.htm

Travel and Tourism in Costa Rica             http://www.worldheadquarters.com/cr/crtourism.html

Travelair Low Season Schedule & Prices  http://www.centralamerica.com/cr/tran/travlow.htm

Reptiles and Amphibians of Costa Rica


This particular website provides the greatest pictures of the various reptiles in Costa Rica, from frogs to snakes to lizards. 


An overview of the various reptiles you will find in Costa Rica.  Great detail about frogs and toads.


Provides a great overview of the more than 150 species of amphibians and more than 200 species of reptiles, half of them snakes.


An overview of the species of reptiles and amphibians recorded from within the boundaries of the Rara Avis rainforest reserve.  Great pictures!!!


A great gallery of pictures of Costa Rican wildlife.

Arenal Volcano Area



Arenal erupts about five times a day.  One can actually walk over lava and get a great view of the volcano.  Nighttime eruptions are highly recommended because red lava and rocks are quite a spectacle.  But there is a great deal cloud coverage that may keep one from getting a clear view.  Tabacon hot springs is a volcano-heated stream.  The new forests that were created after the 1968 eruption house great biodiversity.

Costa Rica, Land of pure Life Breathing Mountain, Mt. Arenal


The morning of July 29, 1968 after being dormant for 400 years Arenal erupted affecting 140 miles of surrounding area (crops, habitats).  87 dead and 9 miles covered in rocks, lava and ash.  Since, it has maintained constant activity. Arenal is a young volcano, only 4000 years old.  The last major eruption prior to the one in 1968 was in 1500 AD. May 8, 1998 – last major eruption.  Evacuation but no injuries.

Arenal Volcano National Park


This site has maps, important facts, recommendations and links.  What I found interesting in this site is the warnings “this is not safe”, (hiking the Arenal area); “people have been killed”; “this is not Disneyland.”

Arenal Volcano map                               http://www.monteverdeinfo.com/arenal/arenal-volcano-map.htm

Montana de Fuego Lodge                       http://www.montanadefuego.com/

Tabacon Resort / Hot Springs                 http://www.monteverdeinfo.com/arenal/tabacon/index.html
The Northern Caribbean Lowlands

A Journey to the Northern Caribbean Plains


Arenal is located in the northern range of the Tilaran mountains.  This area hosts 25 species of fish and about 500 species of plants.  The volcano is 1633 meters above sea level.  For pre-Columbian Indians the area was considered sacred.  After a few earthquakes the volcano erupted and poisonous gases caused most of the 78 deaths.  Scientists expect another major eruption any time.  Pueblo Nuevo was destroyed and covered in lava.  In 1987 the Smithsonian Institute and the University of Costa Rica built the observatory lodge.  Nighttime eruptions are quite a spectacle of the red lava and rock.  Lake Arenal, which is about 2 or 3 million years old.  In 1973 the lake was enlarged and is currently the site of 32-kilometer-long reservoir for a hydroelectric project.

Northern Costa Rica , ''the website''         http://www.nortronica.com/

Selva Verde Lodge                                             http://www.selvaverde.com/


INBio Parque, San Jose, and the Central Valley


This is the official INBio Parque web site. It is filled with information about the origin of the park, it’s mission, facilities and information generally pertaining to visiting the park. It has pretty pictures showing some of the animals and various places of interest in the park. Also, it has a map and directions from San Jose. Has a link to the Spanish version of the site and INBio as well. This site is a great resource for potential visitors.


This site was very interesting. The homepage had a packing list of stuff to bring to make the most of what INBio Parque has to offer. Not very much in the way of information regarding the park, but great links to other Costa Rica web sites. Has park costs for entrance fee, taxes, transportation etc. in U.S dollars.


Simply Costa Rica is a professional camping organization, The Information available on this web page is mainly for those who would be interested in really roughing it in the park. This site will hyperlink you to the official INBio Parque web site and will give you a general description of what INBio Parque is and why the institution was formed.


Very nice web site, professional looking and pretty pictures of the park. This site is actually an itinerary for a day trip to INBio Parque, but talks about some of the interesting things to do while you are there, such as the Café Britt Coffee Tour, which shows how coffee goes from a fruit to a warm beverage. Like most of the sites for INBio Parque it also has a brief overview of what the park is, why it was formed and what you can do there.


This web site is great! It has the phone number for the park, daily hours of operation, student admission rate and its location in relation to San Jose. The host has written a great summary of the average INBio Parque experience. From you entrance to the nature walk one truly gets the feeling of what to expect at this park.

Costa Rica Sarchi handicrafts                             http://www.worldheadquarters.com/cr/destinations/sarchi/

Quality Inn,Costa Rica,San Jose                         http://www.mitour.com/ingles/sanjose/Quality.html

Costa Rican Mammals


Excellent website with pictures of the most common mammals found in Costa Rica. There is great information even though the content per animal is small. This makes it easy to read and provides interesting information.


A fantastic website. What makes this page so exciting is not only the pictures but it has sound of the jungle to go with the pictures. Be ready to transport yourself to the rainforest of Costa Rica and Guatemala. A definite must see website.


This website shows a few pictures of the common mammals that visitors can see in Costa Rica. It provides realistic information about what to expect when traveling to see these animals.


This is a resource page that has many links about the Tapir. Click on the Baird’s Tapir Project link to get information about Costa Rica’s unique species of the Tapir.


This is the Delfin Amor Marine Education Center web page. This organization helps protect whales and dolphins. It has endless picture galleries of projects and whale and dolphin sitings.



This website includes useful information with countless links to articles, other places to visit and pictures of Monteverde’s fauna and animal/insect life, all pictures are breathtaking.


Lots of facts about Monteverde. Photos that can be enlarged for details. A page of links taking you to conservation, cheese factory and art studios.

This site provides Information on Monteverde Costa Rica and Arenal.  You will also find maps, facts, useful tips, photos and an abundance of information.

This is by far the coolest site with interactive features that lets you hear sounds. What I did is I opened all of them at once and was able to enjoy the sounds of the Cloud forest’s birds, monkeys and frogs. Get accustomed.

Lots of useful information about how the Monteverde forest is operated and protected. The Monteverde Biological Reserve is owned and managed by the Tropical Science Center, a Costa Rican nonprofit, scientific research organization.  This site includes more breathtaking pictures.

Casem Artesania de Monteverde Costa Rica – Handicrafts                                                                                                                                                            http://www.monteverdeinfo.com/casem/index.html

Costa Rica map - location of Monteverde rainforest           http://www.monteverdeinfo.com/maps/costa_rica.htm

Costa Rica's Monteverde cloud forest conservation area activities                                                                                                                                       http://www.monteverdeinfo.com/other_activites.htm

Costa Rica's Monteverde Cloud Forest main web site        http://www.monteverdeinfo.com/

Hotel Finca Valverde Monteverde Costa Rica       


How to go from Monteverde to Volcano Arenal                  http://www.monteverdeinfo.com/volcano.htm

Map of Monteverde, Santa Elena & San Luis valley.                                                                                                                                                          http://www.monteverdeinfo.com/maps/monteverde.htm

MONTERVERDE CLOUD FOREST RESERVE                http://www.cct.or.cr/monte_in.htm

Recommended Costa Rica Travel Guide book, maps, nature sounds CD's                                                                                                  http://www.monteverdeinfo.com/costa-rica/costa-rica-guide-books.htm

Costa Rican Birds

Birds of Costa Rica


This particular website contains a lot of information on Costa Rica.  The reason why it interested me was because there it a link to the birds in Costa Rica.  This link briefly describes the diversity of birds and possible habitats.  But what I especially enjoyed about this site is that it contains another link of a bird list and sounds so you can print and take along on your trip.

Finding Birds in Costa Rica


Finding Birds in Costa Rica is a website that contains a lot of information on Costa Rica and it’s main attractions.  The author himself guided bird tours in Costa Rica for the last 17 years.  This website contains helpful tips on bird watching while we are there and a list of birds we are likely to see during the trip.

Birds of Costa Rica


What first caught my attention on this website were the pictures.  Most of the other websites didn’t include any pictures of the birds in Costa Rica.  The website is a brief description of the birds located there but with a twist of humor.  The description of the birds from this website make you believe that you are going to visit a land that only existed during our childhood memories.  Being a fan of fairy tales and cartoons made me enjoy this article tremendously.




The web page by Christopher Baker is about birds in Costa Rica.  This web page describes certain birds of the country.  The best part is that he focuses on the not so shy birds and emphasizes on how to observe these birds.  He also describes them with details of their sounds and colors.



Much like the other websites I found, this one is focused on the fauna of Costa Rica.  The link on just the birds of Costa Rica doesn’t contain picture, but it does describes certain things one may experience while being in the jungle.  This link is sort of similar to the previous web page but it is a brief version of it.  It is very descriptive on the actions and sounds of particular birds, which is what I personally enjoyed.

The Resplendent Quetzal





Strangler Figs

Jolly Miller’s Strangler Figs                                             http://www.jollymiller.com/tree_stilted.htm

What the Strangler Fig Does to Help the Rain Forest       


Stranglers and Banyans                                     http://www.waynesword.palomar.edu/ploct99.htmtm

Strangler Figs                                                    http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/strangler_figs.htm

Strangler Figs: Trees That Grow Down                 http://www.nmhschool.org/costarica/research_rebecc.htm

Contributors: The PCB 2340C class ( websites)and Chris Migliaccio (books and websites)

Updated: June 21, 2003