ibe csic  
Project Funded by:
Biodiversity and Interactions in Dry Tropical Forests
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Chinandega / Reserva Natural San Cristóbal-El Casita

Dominated by the highest volcano in Nicaragua, San Cristóbal (1745 m), the Natural Reserve with the same name harbors tropical dry forest in 42% of its surface, in the lower parts, below 700 m. This stronghold of dry forest is one out of three large expanses of original cover still preserved in Nicaragua. The fertility of volcanic land together with intense human pressure without sustainability control, bring about this region to be under high preservation risk and very vulnerable.


Rivas / Finca Santa Ana

In recent times, most of the Pacific slopes of Nicaragua were covered by tropical dry forest. Today there are still fragments of forest, more or less altered, which harbor part of their original natural richness. Most of these forest patches belong to private owners, and their preservation depends much on their sensitivity and commitment. We found a good example of this commitment in the Finca Santa Ana, a few kilometers north from San Juan del Sur, where rational management of the forest, combined with plans to exploit its ecotourism potential, may warrant its survival.


Estelí / Reserva Terrestre Protegida Miraflor-Moropotente, Comunidad La Naranja de Fátima

Mountainous region in the northern province of Estelí, with much poverty and an unstable economy that suffers the serious impacts from natural climatic cycles, such as the ‘niño’ and ‘niña’ phenomena, which have negative effects on productivity every year. These communities benefit from several aid plans to promote sustainable practices to enhance productivity and employment, as well as initiatives aiming at improving the quality of the environment, such as the National Plan for Forest Repopulation since 2007. The Reserve includes several types of forest, including deciduous dry forest in relatively good shape, although it is always under threat of fires or illegal logging, despite it is an area with the maximum protection by law. In our project, we sampled several dry forest localities in this region, as well as forests in transitional areas.


Rivas / Finca Isla Vista

Close to the Costa Rican border, in the southern shores of the Nicaragua Lake, Finca Isla Vista is one of the several private properties in this part of Nicaragua with a serious commitment for conservation, channeled through the promotion of ecotourism. As in several other private reserves throughout the country, the owners show remarkable sensitivity and responsibility toward the environment, and promote sustainable development. The state includes dozens of hectares of dry forest, with a very diverse riparian habitat, and it has benefited from plans of forest restoration (e.g., Paso Pacific Program) after intense livestock exploitation in the past. A very interesting characteristic of this region is that it takes abundant humidity and rainfall because of proximity to the large Nicaragua Lake, and despite the fact that the dominant vegetation is recognizable as dry forest, moister areas such as riverbeds have elements typical of the Atlantic rainforest, both among plants and animals. Thus, in these forests it is possible to find typically rainforest animals such as Bothrops asper, the highly poisonous “yellow beard” snake, or Hamadryas laodamia, the spectacular “starry night” butterfly.


Managua / Reserva Natura

Less than 5 km away from the Pacific shores, southwest in the Managua province, Reserva Natura is a protected area since 2009 and under management of the private consortium Navinic, with support from Fundenic and Fondo Natura foundations. These entities worked toward the environmental restoration of this area since 2004, succeeding in transforming a completely degraded area into a reforested space (they planted some half million trees of native species). This, in turn, facilitated the restoration of processes such as drawing in and retaining water, which resulted in the formation of two artificial lakes in a very short time that have an effect on the quality, diversity and conservation of the ecosystem. Environmental restoration allowed the development of a dry tropical and currently very healthy biome, where we sampled rich plant and insect diversity.


León / Laguna de Monte Galán

The Monte Galán lagoon is in the western slopes of the Momotombo volcano, northwest from Managua Lake. This region is dominated by the dry tropical forest biome, although it is highly and progressively deteriorated because of the expansion of subsistence farming, but also because of deforestation promoted by cattle industry and forest management with plantations of Eucalyptus or Leucaena wattles.


The seasonally deciduous tropical dry forest is one of the 14 terrestrial biomes, and the World Wildlife Fund ranks up to 59 ecoregions as belonging to this type in the tropics of four continents. Most of these ecoregions (60% approximately) can be found in the Neotropical region.

One of these ecoregions is known as Mesoamerican Dry Forest. Originally, it occupied a continuous stripe from Chiapas, south of Mexico, to the north of Costa Rica. Today, and fundamentally because of human activities (fragmentation, logging, fires, land transformation), it is believed that it covers a mere 2% of its original distribution. So, it disappeared completely from Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica, and only Nicaragua retains some patches of this forest, with different degrees of conservation and threat.

EVOLUTION OF HERVIBORE BEETLES,   INSTITUTE OF EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY (CSIC-UPF) / Pssg. Marítim de la Barceloneta 37-49, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Copyright © 2012 All photographs used in this website were taken and are property of Jesús Gómez-Zurita, Anabela Cardoso, Gissela De la Cadena and Anna Papadopoulou. If you use them, please, request permission to authors.