Toucans, Parrots, and Other Wildlife in Costa Rica's Forests

Wildlife & Ecosystems

Toucans, Parrots, and Other Wildlife in Costa Rica's Forests

Are local tree-planting practices in Costa Rica supporting forest ecosystems and helping to protect biodiversity?

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The facts

Why the research is important

Why the research is important

Costa Rica has one of the highest rates of recent deforestation, which impacts the ecological functions of tropical forests.

As tropical forests become increasingly fragmented, scientists are searching for new, sustainable methods to conserve these ecosystems.

In some regions in Costa Rica, tropical forests that were once cleared for agriculture and pasture have since been abandoned. In order to grow back, the forests rely on vertebrates such as toucans, parrots, and other tropical birds, iguanas, and monkeys to consume and disperse seeds over long distances and help the forests regenerate. In recent years, however, hunting and habitat loss have impacted these "seed dispersers," and threaten biodiversity in Costa Rica.

The planting of fruiting trees may hold the secret to improving the resilience of forest ecosystems.

In Coto Brus, some rural farmers and other landowners plant fruiting trees on their properties, which they intersperse among homes and agricultural fields across the landscape. Researchers hypothesize that these trees are supporting the re-growth and resilience of the forests by serving as seed sources and providing food and stopover points for seed dispersers.

By demonstrating the ecological benefits of these fruiting trees, scientists could help to inform policies that support local communities, enabling landowners to continue or possibly scale up their tree-planting practices.

About the research area

Las Cruces, Coto Brus, Costa Rica, Costa Rica, Central America & The Caribbean

Daily life in the field


This is a summary:

The Scientists


Assistant Professor, Landscape Conservation Initiative, Northern Arizona University

ABOUT Clare Aslan

Dr. Clare Aslan is Assistant Professor, Landscape Conservation Initiative at Northern Arizona University. She is a community ecologist and conservation biologist, interested in the ecology and conservation of species interactions and how dynamics at the interaction level can scale up to the full community level.



Accommodations and Food

Accommodations and Food


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