Environmental Education

Adventure & Research in Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula

Photo of the La Paz student group

Photo of the La Paz student group

La Paz Community School’s 11th grade class visited Piro Biological Station to conduct field ecological research in the Osa Peninsula. They spent five days connecting with nature by exploring the rainforest and water systems, learning from experts, and collecting a variety of their own data with the goal of helping others to understand this region and be motivated to contribute to the efforts to conserve it. Their main focus was to study ecological relationships and examine the conflict between conservation and profit. In collaboration with experts from Osa Conservation, Creek Connections and Connect Ocean, our curious citizen scientists are engaging in ongoing research projects to educate visitors about the rainforest ecosystem and provide foundational data for future researchers to build upon. They are working to establish important baseline assessments of watershed health, and track long-term changes in aquatic diversity and aquatic health that accompany changes in land-use including forestation and presence or absence of agriculture and gold-mining. Included in this report are thes students’ projects as well as their responses to this unique experience:

 

Distribution & Abundance of Meriting Latissima snails in rivers Piro, Coyunda, & downstream Piro in the Osa Peninsula

In our group 4 project that we worked on while in Osa, we observed and collected Meriting Latissima snails to learn more about their migration patterns and chemical/ physical water preferences in the rivers Piro, Coyunda, and downstream from their junction.

Photo of snails collected on rocks.

Photo of snails collected on rocks.

We collected snails in three 1metersquared areas for each of the three 100 meter sections that we divided each of the three rivers into. We also collected water samples from each 300-meter mark in each river to use for calcium tests. Lastly, we measured the salinity at each 100-meter mark to use to compare to the average amount of snails that we collected. We found that snails are more present in the water with more salt and in theater with not as much salt, there weren’t as many snails. This experience was rewarding

Examining a river as a potential sample site.

Examining a river as a potential sample site.

because we got to record data that would be helpful for future experiments done by researchers. It was exciting to feel like we were making a difference and collecting conclusive information that would hopefully be used in the future.

 

Macro-Invertebrate Investigation in the Hiking Trail of Discovery Pond

While exploring the National Wildlife Refuge in the Osa Peninsula you can find that there are many extensive ponds that contain several of the macro invertebrate species that cause the water of this refuge to remain as one of the cleanest in the country. Our

Studying macroinvertebrates samples.

Studying macroinvertebrates samples.

group was responsible for identifying and classifying species living in these waters. After walking down a hiking trail full of rich biodiversity we finally reached a pond that, at first glance, expresses an incredible sense of life. Upon entering the water and extracting the different species of marcoinvertebrates we realized that there is so much diversity in these ponds that it is not unusual to encounter unknown species. Definitely the ponds of the Osa Peninsula shelter many mysteries and our investigation certainly became an experience that will stay with each of us for the rest of our lives. It is fundamental to the scientific community, that future groups take the opportunity offered by the Microcenter of Biological Research to continue exploring and investigating more about the secrets that lie within this treasure.

 

Tree Huggers

There comes a point, after the first night at Osa, where one is surrounded by so much beauty and their eyes have so much to consume that its is literally impossible to not go out and investigate. With 2.5% of the words biodiversity, one could call this place a sanctuary of growth. Our group focused on the most outstanding, eye-catching trees and plants on the Ago trail located

Hiking and recording data through the "Ajo" trail.

Hiking and recording data through the “Ajo” trail.

Inside Piro biological station. With its biodiversity in flora and its majestic trees towering over us, the Ago trail provided us with the perfect environment to lay back and let nature unveil it’s secrets. After this, the investigation and data collection felt like a part of our everyday life. We cataloged the most common trees and plants found on the trail, to formally educate any future visitors. With the wealth of resources in the station library and locals providing us with mind blowing stories and their wisdom, understanding and immersing ourselves in this sanctuary was stimulating. Each of us will never forget this experience and we hope that future generations of visitors will be inspired by our work.

 

Macro-Invertebrate Adventure

Our project consisted of comparing the populations of macro-invertebrates between two upstream and downstream locations in Río Coyunda and also Río Piro. The project included an active identification of macro-invertebrates where we had to learn the different tolerance indexes of each species and how to identify them. Even though we had to learn many aspects regarding macro-invertebrate, we also had the opportunity to have fun by doing a kick net dance that was used to expose them into the water so they could flow into the yellow kick-net, which we used to catch them. Then we would try to find of our favorite macro-invertebrates such

Performing data entry and investigations at Osa Conservation's Piro Biological Research Station.

Performing data entry and investigations at Osa Conservation’s Piro Biological Research Station.

As the water penny beetle larva that represented excellent water qualities. After several hours of intense counting and classification we realized that this is just the beginning of endless data gathering that will help scientists understand the different types of marcoinvertebrates that live in both rivers and how they are affected by climate and season.

***

We would like to thank the La Paz Community School’s 11th Grade class for this entry they have so willingly decided to both write and share with us here on our blog. We would also like to extend a thank you to Creek Connections with their partnership with Osa Conservation and their support of watershed ecology programs on the Osa Peninsula. La Paz Logo CreekConncetionLogo