Cloud Forest Fungi
Research and Volunteers:
My name is Eli and I’m 21 years old from Wales, UK. I’ve just finished my second year at The University of Manchester studying Zoology with French. I came to Cloudbridge as a volunteer, having already spent two weeks in Costa Rica on a field course as part of my degree: 1 week at Macaw Lodge (a sustainability and eco project located on the Pacific side of Costa Rica) and the second week at La Selva Biological Station. I have spent the past two weeks helping the research interns with different projects such as obtaining samples for the forest reclamation project, setting up a mammal project and planting trees, all whilst hiking the trails in the beautiful Costa Rican scenery. Waking up to the sounds of wildlife and hiking the tallest mountain in Costa Rica are probably the highlights of my stay, as well as making what I hope to be lifelong friends along the way. Cloudbridge will always have a place in my heart and I will miss all the hard-working people who make the reserve what it is!!!
Exeter University Students – UK :
Hi my name is Kelsey Davies and am a proud Welshman, raised in Cwmllynfell near Swansea, Wales (Cymru am Byth!) I am currently an MSci Zoology student at the University of Exeter Penryn Campus and work part-time in retail, thoroughly enjoying a life on the Cornish coast. At this point I am in the transition from second to third year. I have always had a love for being outdoors which quickly developed into a keen interest in the environment and its inhabitants- especially insects! Therefore I was extremely excited when our final decision on a research project was focussed on ants! I am quickly realising I could easily become accustomed to life researching in the cloud forest, through spending free time exploring, hiking and, especially, relaxing in hammock with a book. From this experience I hope to continue in the field of research after university, whether it is abroad or at home in the UK, continuously gaining knowledge about what nature has to give! Diolch enfawr i Cloudbridge! We originally came across Cloudbridge through our university where there have been previous groups conducting research at the reserve. Our focus is on the formidable critters, ants. We hope to discover if ants could possibly be used to show the success of reforestation. This will be carried out through comparing the species diversity and abundance between pasture, planted, regenerated and old forest, determining if there are any differences/similarities. We also hope to add to the ant species list of the reserve, where we have already found numerous unlisted species. We are confident that through this research, we will gain incredibly valuable field experience that will be essential to continue our careers within the field of Biology and Conservation. Also as a group, we are very eager to help out and learn about the many other fantastic research going on at the reserve, therefore gaining an insight into other people’s interests and passions. We are very thankful to the reserve for having us and are already falling in love with the cloud forest!
Hola, I’m Ellie Boone, I study BSc zoology at the University of Exeter and will shortly be entering my second year of study. Originally from Cheshire, England, I decided I wanted to study zoology as I had always had a passion for biology, however I was less interested in the micro side of things and I wanted to find a way of incorporating travel into my career, therefore, zoology was the perfect option. I am active and enjoy the outdoors, I’m finding the trails at cloud-bridge exhilarating and great fun, and they’re a good way to push myself. Although studying ants here, after my degree I think I would like to go on to study birds and their behaviour, as I find them beautiful and highly intelligent.
Hello, my name is Catherine and I am about to go into the third year of my BSc Conservation Biology and Ecology degree at the University of Exeter in Cornwall. As a wildlife enthusiast, with a long held dream of going to Costa Rica (allegedly one of the happiest countries in the world), the opportunity to embark on research at the Cloudbridge reserve was too good to miss. Cloudbridge has been an amazing place to see how progress can be made towards reforesting the Earth and I am thoroughly enjoying getting outdoors to see the wealth of species in this region. I hope to go on to do a masters after my degree and ultimately take part in more research to learn how best to protect our planet and its inhabitants.
Hello, my name is Harriet and I am studying towards a BSc Zoology degree at the University of Exeter, going into my third year. I have always been fascinated by nature and wildlife from a young age, so studying a wildlife-based degree has always been something I’ve worked hard towards. For so long Costa Rica has been at the top of my list of places I’d love to visit based on its picturesque scenery and its incredible biodiversity. The opportunity to carry out our very own research high in the cloud forest, surrounded by other great researchers, is a once in a lifetime chance. I have already loved hiking through the forest, learning more about reforestation and seeing some truly remarkable wildlife. From this amazing opportunity, I hope to gain valuable skills, research experience and, importantly, enjoy being in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
The Exeter Group
My Name is Eva Szekeres and am from Austria. At home, I am studying biology because I am very interested in nature. I came to the Cloudbridge Nature Reserve because always I wanted to see the rainforest, wanted to make a research internship and because I wanted to make new contacts with students from other countries. Here in Cloudbridge I am conducting a study about butterflies to collect data for my bachelor thesis. I really enjoy the work with these gentle and beautiful animals. In Costa Rica I can discover something new everyday, be it a humming bird feeding on the flowers, a butterfly looking exactly like a leaf, bananachips or scarlet macaws on the beach. I like the community in Cloudbridge and the simple living in middle of the forest where I can hear the birds when I get up.
My name is Tamara Pohler. I come from Austria and I’ll stay in Cloudbridge for nearly 1 month. I research on spider communities in the three different forest types – primary forest, naturally regenerated forest and planted forest.
My biggest interests are wild cats, especially leopards and lions. I have already worked with cheetahs, lions and other cats in South Africa. Now its time to face my other passion, spiders. Costa Rica is a perfect place to research on spiders. There are many different species, some of them even not been scientifically identified.
So, there’s a great adventure, waiting for me. See you maybe there 😉
Chiel van der Laan has spent the last five months conducting forest assessment research in different areas of the reserve. He took measurements from trees in many different plots, incorporating areas of planted, naturally regenerated and old growth (primary) forest habitat. Looking at the trees in each habitat, he found several differences between them: for example, trees in Cloudbridge’s primary forest are significantly higher than those in other forest types, but no greater in volume. He also demonstrated that older trees have slower growth rates (measured as DBH increase per year), and thus denser wood than younger trees. He then used wood density data to estimate the mass of carbon sequestered in each habitat type around Cloudbridge – an excellent figure to be aware of with deforestation contributing so much excess carbon to the atmosphere! It’s great to know that so much carbon is being stored in the trees protected within the reserve.
Chiel giving his final presentation.
“After I had collected all the data I did a normality test to find out whether the data was normally distributed or not. I did this for every tree/forest characteristic that I measured. The number of trees per hectare and canopy closure turned out to be normally distributed, so I used the one-way anova test for those. For the others I used the Kruskal-Wallis test. The pictures show some of the results of the statistical tests for DBH increase, crown class and wood density.
These results I used to see if there was a relation between the amount of light received by trees and the density of the wood. In the picture with the correlations you see that the wood density (WSG) increases with an increase in canopy closure and crown class. Also when the tree growth (DBH increase) increases the wood density becomes lower. This proves my hypothesis that: Less sunlight results in slower tree growth and thus denser wood. Because when a tree receives less light it invests more growth in wood density than volume. Although this is not based on a lot of data so more data should be collected to be more certain about this statement.
I also just wanted to show the difference in carbon sequestration between forest types. You can see that there is a big difference in the amount of carbon stored per forest type. I did no further analysis on this because I only have the data of 3 plots which I found not enough to be sure about any results.”
Hola! I’m Seth and I’m one of the volunteers at Cloudbridge. I’m from the UK and came to Central America after finishing my BSc in Horticulture with Plantsmanship and spent a month climbing trees in a research station In Panama before coming to Cloudbridge. I was drawn to Cloudbridge by its amazing location and montane cloud forest at the reserve as well as the botanical beauties it holds (especially the lichens, I like lichens…). So far at the reserve I have been helping researchers with plant identification, taking tree measurements in the old growth forest, helping to maintain newly planted areas of the reserve and giving tree climbing demonstrations to visiting school groups. I have loved my time at Cloudbridge and I’ll be really sad to leave! I loved being immersed in the beautiful surrounds and getting to geek out with the others at the station. I’ve had lots of ideas for projects during my time here though, so maybe you’ll be reading another post from me in the future??? Adios!!
This past month Cloudbridge has hosted two groups of British high school students,
from Lancaster and Stamford in the UK. They were able to enjoy this experience through an organization called Outlook Expeditions who organized the trip to Costa Rica. https://www.outlookexpeditions.com/
It has been a pleasure to spend several
days showing them around the reserve – even up to Catarata Don Victor
and Vulture Rock! The groups were able to see some local wildlife
(including spider monkeys and a peccary), and they thoroughly
enjoyed afternoon swims in the river.
The students also contributed to the reforestation of the reserve,
planting trees that were grown in the Cloudbridge nursery. They
were able to learn about canopy ecology from one of the researchers,
who climbed up a beautiful 30-meter tree. The spider monkeys came
around to see what was going on! Tree-planting day finished up with a
talk on climate change, which emphasizes strategies for creating
resilience on the local level. The students engaged with questions of
their own and a worthwhile discussion afterwards.
One of the groups was able to enjoy a Sunday brunch at the local Jardines
Secretos and a night walk as well. It was truly a pleasure to engage
with these groups and we hope to host more in the future!
The staff at Cloudbridge were instramental in organizing an event to promote sustainable agriculture in the Chirripo Valley.
July 26th, in San Gerardo de Rivas, Victoria Arronis of
the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA), gave a small
talk about sustainable livestock. Certain practices can reduce the
emissions of greenhouse gases associated with cattle production.
Planting trees, feeding the cattle more locally grown forages and
proper management can reduce production costs and mitigate climate
Managing livestock intensively, in small enclosures which are given
rest periods, with the presence of trees and shade, allows for less
stress on the cattle due to heat. Forrages that are highly nutritious
and digestible can partially replace commercial feed. Using forrage
banks which the animals are allowed to directly eat from reduces the
labor associated with chopping and transporting feed.
With these types of changes, it is possible to produce milk and meat
more sustainably, with more resilience to climate change, with many
benefits for producers and the environment.
Camera Trap Photos