December 2017

Mountains and Clouds   Photo by Laurie Allnatt



Research and Volunteers:

Brie presented her tropical bird monitoring research.  She has been here since September and was one of the volunteers who experienced tropical storm Nate. The storm added another element to her research.

She filled us all in on the protocols for bird monitoring, touching on the survey schedules, described the bird station area and listed the trails used for this study. She talked about the methods for recording the data as well.

After the storm hit on October 4th and 5th a new opportunity presented itself for study.  Three of the bird stations were disturbed by landslides and Brie decided to research the possibility of a change in bird activity at these sites.  She used the Bray-Curtis Dissimilarity method to measure changes.  She used data from 4 weeks before the storm and then 4 weeks after.  She also did a comparison to data from 2016.  The results didn’t show significant difference in abundance or species richness, however she did notice that at one of the stations there were four species of hummingbirds that were absent after the storm.

Thank you Brie for collecting information to add to our data base and for weathering the storm during that unusual time at Cloudbridge.  She mentioned that her favourite bird was the Torrent Tyrannulet and that the Rufous-breasted Wren’s song made her feel like dancing!


Alice has been here since September and also weathered the big October storm while doing her research.

In her presentation she reviewed the purpose of using camera traps for research.  Right now there is 8 camera traps set out in various locations on the reserve.  Some of the photos that she captured include the coyote, an ocelot, puma, jaguarundi, tayra, pacca, opossum, and coati.

Part of her work here was to set up a new standardized camera trap protocol that will more efficiently monitor and collect data about the animals in our forest.  It is especially important for collecting information on the elusive species that we never see.  The new protocol addresses placement of traps and uses an occupancy modelling technique and a wildlife picture index to monitor changes in mammal communities.  We will be determining the protocal  locations with GIS and will include placing some traps off trail as well as some on the trails.

Mexican Mouse Opossum (new species for camera our traps)









Another research presentation was from our butterfly monitoring team – Tim and Timo.  Their study was from October to December 2017. The monitoring sites included old growth, natural regeneration under 30 years, and planted areas. They set up net traps in mid and low canopy for each transect.  Banana bait is used to attract the fruit eating butterflies.  The traps are set up every Monday and checked each day and then taken down on Friday. Photos are taken of the trapped butterflies for ID and then they are released.  Sweep nets are also used on the same trails to catch and ID butterflies that may not be attracted to the bait in the traps.

Their research showed that the old growth forest had the least abundance and species richness.  The highest amount was in the natural regeneration under 30 years but there wasn’t a significan difference from the newer planted sites.

213 butterflies were caught in the 7 week study with a few new species to add to the Cloudbridge species list.




Emilio Masotti-Black

I am a recent graduate from the University of Hull in the UK with a BSc in Zoology. Since I was a child I have always been interested in animals and loved learning about the diversity of species found on earth. This has more recently led me to take a Masters in Biodiversity and Taxonomy with future aspirations of obtaining and organising specimens for a Natural History Museum’s collection. Because of this, I have come to Cloudbridge to work as a Birding Intern and consequently gain valuable field experience. Whilst here, I aim to compare the abundance of specialist bird species in both primary and regenerating forest, discover if the difference in these observations are as a result of deforestation and whether the fantastic replanting efforts here at Cloudbridge has meant a positive increase in species abundance in regenerating habitat.



Aaran Samuel Redman

Hello my name is Arran. I’m 22 and live in Bangor, North Wales. Ever since coming to Costa Rica ten years ago I have been inspired by environmentalism. A few years after our trip I was walking in a woodland near to my home when I walked passed an area of erosion where a face of soil horizons had been exposed. Intrigued by the clinging soil around root mycorrhiza and the transformation of rich dark organic layers into the baked red clays below, I realised that I wanted to follow this passion for soil science. I am now extremely privileged to return to Costa Rica for research at Cloudbridge nature reserve, working and learning alongside wonderful passionate people and gathering data for my masters thesis.  I am extremely excited to continue this 4 month adventure here.


Michelle McKay

I am originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Psychology from Dalhousie University and a Master of Science in Environmental Life Sciences from Trent University. Since graduating, I have worked a variety of positions ranging from wildlife rehabilitation intern to working on several research projects, including working as a ecology technician with the James Bay Shore Bird Project, working as a bird bander in both the Maritimes and Eastern Canada, and working as a volunteer with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry on a project monitoring the spread of white-nose syndrome in bats. While at Cloudbridge, I will be leading the camera trap research project, which has been used to survey ground-dwelling mammals and birds on the reserve. During my time here, I plan to run a pilot project that will be used to standardize the collection of photographic data to create a Wildlife Picture Index (WPI) that can be used to capture and detect changes in animal presence and distribution on the reserve.





Amity Allen

Hi, my name is Amity, I’m 23 and am from the UK. I have recently graduated with a Degree in Zoology & Conservation. Since graduating I have been gaining experience in the field doing an internship with a Conservation Charity and working on a Pine Marten reintroduction project in the UK. I’m looking forward to my time here at Cloudbridge to further push my study skills by carrying out my own research. I am testing two different low cost methods of small mammal surveillance to find which is the most successful for retrieving clear data. This method can then be spread around the reserve and used alongside the camera traps to collect more data from wider afield. I’m really looking forward to my 4 months at Cloudbridge, learning from and working with the people and environment here within the diverse ecosystems of Costa Rica.


Amity beside one of our giants.


Stephanie Glanzmann

Hi, my name is Steph and I’m a 5th year Forestry student at the University of British Columbia. I specialize in Natural Resource Conservation and have a keen interest in the intersection of society, governance and climate change. While I’ve been at CloudBridge, I’ve been assisting Rachele with her soil moisture research as well as some odd jobs around the reserve. Back in Canada, I have been active in campaigning against bitumen oil pipelines and production that exacerbate climate change. Coming to Cloud Bridge and seeing how other folks tackle climate change has been really refreshing and fulfilling. I’m very much looking forward to what my next week holds in Costa Rica!




Before and After:

Montana trail is a good example of how reforestation can be accomplished in very difficult terrain.  This mountain-side ridge was hot and dry with very poor soil.  A couple of earlier attempts to plant it had failed.  7 years ago we tweaked our planting methods and took  a methodical approach to caring for  the young seedlings.  Today they are well on their way, creating forest canopy and attracting wildlife.





Sometimes exciting things happen here with our visiting tourists.  Cameron and Amanda from Colorado were hiking in Cloudbridge when Cameron decided to propose marriage to Amanda.  He said that he had planned on proposing to her in Costa Rica on their vacation.  He was overwhelmed with the beauty of the forest, waterfalls and the feeling of positive energy at Cloudbridge and knew this was the place to ask her if she would spend the rest of her life with him!  Congratulations.




Making mince tarts


Linda’s Cabbage Rolls
Strawberry Santas



Our volunteer constructed tree.


Good Food and Drinks


And Goofy Games




Year End:

2017 has been a year of extremes.  We worked with more scientific interns than ever before, and we saw massive destruction of the Cloudbridge infrastructure during tropical storm Nate.  Thankfully our volunteers and staff stepped up to all of the challenges doing much more than was expected.   As we end 2017 we are extremely thankful for the opportunities we have to work with interns, researchers and volunteers on a daily basis. We have the opportunity here to continually discuss the challenges facing the environment and what each of us can do to address our changing climate.  We plant trees – but planting trees is not enough.  We encourage everyone we come in contact with to get active, educate local policy makers, initiate conversations  and be an active part of the change we need to happen.  We will be posting a 2017 wrap up in the January blog. Have a great 2018 and remember to make the resolution to reduce your carbon footprint and to help spread the word.

-Jenny, Tom, Linda, Jenn & Frank

Photo courtesy of Laurie Allnatt

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