Monteverde in the midst of global warming

This topic submitted by Nicole K Berzins ( at 4:35 PM on 5/18/06.

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Montverde in the midst of global warming

The cloud forest known as Montverde is arguable one of the unique ecosystems. The cloud forest consists o many factors that enable a unique life force. Several things, such as the geological history and weather patterns resulting in consistent cloud cover, have aiding in spawning the uniqueness of the cloud forest ecosystem. Unique to Montverde is the geologic history that has aided in shaping the many ecosystems in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is on a plane of tectonic plates that converge against one another. The Caribbean plate to the North of Costa Rica and to small plates the Nazca Pate the Cocos plate. As a result of this movement the Pacific Sea and Caribbean Seas were separated by the erection of land. These complex tectonic interactions shaped the bigeographic and ecological impact of the region. The development of this and not only separated the Pacific from the Caribbean but it also changed the pattern of warm surface currents redirecting the trade winds. These trade wind and weather systems patterns changed dramatically which aided in molding the cloud forest of today.
The cloud forest depends on weather patterns that provide vital precipitation; mist and cloud cover which are often referred to as cloud banks. Weather patterns that affect Montverde come from the North Pacific and the Caribbean basin. Those weather patterns that come from the North Pacific provide what is referred to as Temporales del nortes and produce outbreaks of cold, dry polar air and are typically experienced through the months of December and February. The ocenanic force provides an uplift current that moves the stratus and stratocumulus clouds that cover Montverde with mist and precipitation that can linger for up to 14 days. (nedkarni 2000). The Caribbean Basin provides low pressure tropical systems referred to as Temporles del Pacificos. These low-pressure tropical systems provide the same type of cloud formation over Montverde however they are much shorter in duration.
Climate trends have resulted in fluxuations of ocean surface waters that can directly affect weather patterns, for example the result of El Nino related weather changes. These types of unusual weather pattern, that could be linked to the raise in temperature of the ocean surface and change weather patterns and can effective the habitat and species ability to adapt quickly enough to survive. Abnormal weather patterns could indirectly affect the ecosystem two distinct different ways. First if typically long dry periods are effected by weather patterns that cause mist and cold rain the result could mean that contaminants that the ecosystem cannot cope could occur some scientist refer to this as the "climate-linked epidemic hypothesis"(Nedkarni 200). Secondly a change in extreme temperature could result in the increasing presence of pathogen outbreaks. These types of changes also influences climate gradients within the cloud forest, which depend on consistent temperatures and weather patterns. These types of changes can result in less foraging opportunities which trickles down into a number of continued problems, such as weakened immune systems potentially decreasing propagation succession rates. One fine example of how sensitive this ecosystems if to the changes in weather or climate change if the obliterating decline of the amphibian populations found in Montverde. This rampant decline was observed in 1986-87 during the El Nino, when intense dry and warm weather plagued the region (Nadakmi 2000)
So how will Montverde cope with these changes that will take place? Some speculate that these weather patterns change in a cyclic fashion but the increase in climate trends in the past few decades have scientists exploring the reasons for the recession of the cloud forest. One answer may be found in the Caribbean moisten laden tradewinds that are becoming increasingly warmer, which has resulted in the mean height that condensation a cloud bank formation begins (LaVale 2004). Other factors involved with weather patterns have resulted in warmer night temperatures and a decrease in dry days. All of these factors have inverse and direct impacts on the flora and fauna of the Montverde ecosystem.
The Montverde cloud forest has very abundant and diverse species, many which are indigenous to the ecosystem. These species have a variety of specific needs that enable them to thrive in such a diverse community. As the weather patterns change and the climate of the region increases many species will be affected. With the increase in temperature and the recession of the cloud forest some species will have to move to higher elevation, such as microparasictic species that are moved not higher elevation via their insect vectors. Disease can also be brought in to the ecosystem with a vengeance in those regions that are disturbed due to the loss of vegetation that requires the appropriate amount of loud cover, precipitation and dry seasons. Another fine example of how the changes in climate zones may affect the region is the change in species life zones. Life zones are areas were similar plant and animal communities are found. Many factors such as elevation, temperature, precipitation etc determine different life zones. One example of a change in life zones can be seen in the research done with bat species fund in Central America. Tropical Cloud forest bats are researched throughout Costa Rica to determine population sustainability. Over the past few years lowland bat species have been increasing caught in the mist nets of tropical cloud forest bats species. This increase of low-land bat species indicates that an elevation movement of these species is occurring (LaVal 2004). A speculative reason could be that the changing habitat provides better gleaning (feeding) ground for these low-land species of bat. This movement of species has not only been seen in bats, but also in the bird's retiles and amphibians (nadkarni 2000).
In order to better understand conservation approaches in Montverde on the changes long-term weather and species population information needs to be obtained. Without this information conservationist cannot assess the impacts of climate changes. Determining the communities impact on the cloud forest will also b important to thoroughly conducting or beginning conservation efforts. With the continued increased of global climate change Montverde will see an incase in disease and loss of species, as it has begun to experience. Not only climate change patterns need to be researched but also determining other factors that could be the root of the potentially devastating loss in the species and habitat. Many scientists continue to study the region however until they come together and share information about the changes and what is affecting species and habitat loss due to climate change in the world, little effective conservation work will be done.

Collard, Sneed B. 1997. Monteverde : Science and scientists in a costa rican cloud forest. Cloud forest ecology -- research -- costa rica -- reserva del bosque nuboso de monteverde -- juvenile literature; cloud forests -- research -- costa rica -- reserva del bosque nuboso de monteverde -- juvenile literature; biologists -- biography -- juvenile literature. New York: F. Watts.

Hamilton, Lawrence S., James O. Juvik, and F. N. Scatena. 1995. Tropical montane cloud forests. Ecological studies; cloud forest ecology; cloud forests; mountain ecology -- tropics; tropical regions forests ecology. Vol. 110. New York: Springer-Verlag.

Janzen, Daniel H. 1991. Historia natural de costa rica. Natural history -- costa rica. 1a ed. en espa{228}nol. ed. San Jos{226}e, Costa Rica: Editorial de la Universidad de Costa Rica.

Nadkarni, Nalini, and Nathaniel T. Wheelwright. 2000. Monteverde : Ecology and conservation of a tropical cloud forest. Natural history -- costa rica -- reserva del bosque nuboso de monteverde; cloud forest ecology -- costa rica -- reserva del bosque nuboso de monteverde; nature conservation -- costa rica -- reserva del bosque nuboso de monteverde. New York: Oxford University Press.

Peters, Robert L., and Thomas E. Lovejoy. 1992. Global warming and biological diversity. Global warming -- congresses; bioclimatology -- congresses; biological diversity conservation -- congresses; greenhouse effect, atmospheric -- congresses; biological diversity -- congresses; climatic changes -- congresses; organisms effects of global warming. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Slobodkin, Lawrence B. 2003. A citizen's guide to ecology. Ecology; nature -- effect of human beings on. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.

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