Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Biological Assessment Surveys Wrap Up for the Year

3 volunteers from Phase 114 on a BAS survey

The Biological Assessment Surveys (BAS) carried out at the GVI Jalova Biological Station this last phase were in full swing and ended up yielding some exciting results. These surveys are typically the source of a lot of conversation around base because of the fact that much of the rare and exotic wildlife seen while participating with GVI is seen while on these BAS surveys. While they can be physically challenging (long hikes to the survey site, wading through knee-high ponds, toughing through pounding rain), they end up being quite rewarding experiences.

This last phase we were able to conduct 86 individual surveys over our 8 trails, which gave us a quite a large amount of time on the trails. Our teams identified 174 individual species, an astonishing number for those of us that don’t come originally from the tropics. Between those 174 species, we were able to record 1,335 individuals seen and positively identified. In addition to this, we were able to positively identify 157 individuals from their calls alone, and another 24 animals were identified from their footprints alone.

Of these recordings, birds accounted for the most sightings, with the Black Vulture being spotted the most. Birds were followed closely by reptiles with the Slender Anole being seen the most. In third place was the mammals, whose top contender was the Central American Spider Monkey. Finally, amphibians were spotted the least, with the Red-Eyed Treefrog (the wildlife symbol of Costa Rica) being seen the most. Overall, the most spotted animal was the Slender Anole, followed by the Central American Spider Monkey, followed by the Eyelash Palm Pitviper.

The diversity of animals in Tortuguero National Park is simply astounding, and it’s nice to have our data collected in the field reflect this. Our BAS teams, dealing with such obstacles as numerous Eyelash Vipers sitting right at eye-level, Fer-de-lances sleeping in the middle of the path, and monkeys literally throwing things at us to defend their territory, did an excellent job and collected solid data that will help with the protection of the park in the coming months and years.

-Kevin, Expedition Field Staff