Priceless monitoring without cost: the significance of incidental detection of species to conservation efforts

*David Aneurin Jones1, Diogo Verissimo1 and Rebeca Chaverri1
1

Global Vision International Costa Rica, Apartado Postal 78-7209, Cariari de Pococí, Limón, Costa Rica. Email: costarica@gvi.co.uk.

Presented to the XIII Mesoamerican Congress of Biology and Conservation, Belize 2009. The goals of any field station should include increasing the scientific knowledge and contributing to the better management of the area in which they are based. At Caño Palma Biological Station (CPBS), Global Vision International Costa Rica are recording the species incidentally detected around the property, set in the southern extent of Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica. Beginning in 2007 we have developed a methodology that requires minimal to no expertise to establish and accounts for variations in people’s knowledge and effort to allow maximum accurate data collection. Over time, the basic data will help to document the presence of species in the area, seasonal trends and changes in species compositions. CPBS is home to staff, researchers and volunteers to varying degrees throughout the year. To account for this, we have developed the methodology by illustrating the most commonly identified species present, as recorded in the first year of the study. These total almost 100 species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Additionally, we have larger illustrations and keynotes for eight target species. These were selected in the third year as conspicuous and easily identifiable species with different preferences and requirements, to act as indicators for the different habitats and ecosystems surrounding the station. One such example is Quiscalus mexicanus, first recorded at CPBS in March 2009. Common to urban areas but rare in extensively forested regions, preferring degraded habitats, this bird was unknown to the Caribbean coast until the 1960s but is now recorded consistently. We present our methodology and management as an easily transferable model for any other institution or area, together with an overview of our findings so far. With over 25,000 records we investigate the basic species composition and trends, in view of the implications for conservation, management and further study.

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