Costa Rican Seasonal Moist Forests Habitat
This taxon occurs in the Costa Rican seasonal moist forests, an ecoregion quite different from the surrounding dry and moist forest habitat types. Deciduous trees that shed leaves during the distinct dry season make up the dominant vegetation in these forests. The ecoregion fauna have a moderate species richness, with the number of vertebrates occurring here amounting to 698 taxa; however, faunal endemism is rather low. The flora and fauna here are more adapted and capable of surviving in such a seasonally based ecoregion.
The rainshadow created by Tilaran Mountain Range gives this ecoregion's climate strong seasonal variability. For about five months, usually November through March, the virtually incessant easterly tradewinds bring moisture-laden air from the Caribbean Sea that is trapped on Central America's Atlantic slope by the tops of the mountains, depriving the Pacific side of the Isthmus precipitation. During the rest of the year, the tradewinds are absent or substituted by reversed movements of air created by low pressures from hurricanes in the Caribbean Sea, and orographic uplift and resultant cooling of air from the Pacific Ocean inundates the area with heavy rainfall.
The flora of this seasonal moist forest ecoregion exhibits extremely high beta diversity, which is to say its species composition changes rapidly over short distances as one moves away from the adjacent highland cloud forests, down the mountains into areas increasingly impacted by the rainshadow. Some of the most charismatic cloud forest species such as the Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomacrus mocinno) and Three-wattled Bellbird (Procnias tricarunculata) are equally dependent on the seasonal moist forests as they migrate annually to these moist forests at the completion of their breeding season. These birds apparently migrate into the moist forests to take advantage of delayed fruiting cycles of tree species, predominately of the Lauraceae family, that are endemic to the ecoregion.
Mammalian fauna found in this ecoregion include: Central American Montane Squirrel (Syntheosciurus brochus NT); Variegated Squirrel (Sciurus variegatoides), Mantled Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata); White-throated Capuchin Monkey (Cebus capucinus); Central American Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi EN); Central American Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata); White-nosed Coati (Nasua narica); and the Jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi).
A number of reptilian species are found in the ecoregion, including; Degenhardt's Scorpion-eating Snake (Stenorrhina degenhardtii); Godman's Montane Pit Viper (Cerrophidion godmani); Oxacan Spiny-tail Iguana (Ctenosaura quinquecariniata EN), who prefers rocky terrain and is found only in the Pacific versant of Costa Rica and Nicaragua; and the Yellow-headed Gecko (Gonatodes albogularis). A number of amphibians are found in the Costa Rican seasonal moist forests ecoregion. Salamanders present include the Costa Rican Worm Salamander (Oedipina uniformis); Alvarado's Salamander (Bolitoglossa alvaradoi EN); and LaPalma Salamander (Bolitoglossa subpalmata EN). A caecilian found in the ecoregion is the Mexican Caecilian (Dermophis mexicanus VU). There are a number of anuran taxa found in the ecoregion, including the Yellow Toad (Incilius luetkenii).
- L. R. Holdridge. 1967. Life zone ecology. Tropical Science Center, San Jose, Costa Rica.
- World Wildlife Fund & C. Michael Hogan. 2010. "Costa Rican seasonal moist forests". Encyclopedia of Earth, National Council for Science and the Environment, Washington DC ed.Mark McGinley. updated 2013