The RegionThe Center is connected south-westerly to the Children Eternal Rainforest and Monteverde Conservation Area, both reserves encompassing more than 50,000 hectares (110,000 acres) of forest land. The Zona Protectora Arenal-Monteverde extends down to the Center through a forest corridor that descends in elevation from 1,800 meters at Monteverde to 450 meters above sea level at the Center. This complex reserve has four major tropical life zones and includes more than 3,000 species of vascular plants. The fauna is similarly diverse. More than 400 species of resident and migratory birds have been sighted in the reserve, representing almost half of Costa Rica's bird species.
The WatershedAt the local level, the Center is located in the heart of the Peñas Blancas River Watershed. This watershed, with more than 40,000 hectares (Table 1), has 56% of its lands covered with rain forests, found mostly in the highlands, from 500 to 1800 masl. Pastures with scattered trees and woody species account for 20% of the land use in the middle and lower elevations of the watershed, followed by agricultural crops (13%) dominated by cassava, sugar cane and plantain. Other important crops, including ornamental plants, pineapple, papaya and oranges, make up to 2.5% of the lands. Scattered all over the watershed subsistence agriculture is practiced by local farmers. Beyond the Center, primarily in the town of La Fortuna, the economy depends on eco-tourism due to proximity of the Arenal Volcano and the Lake.
Regional Land use (in hectares) for the Rio Peñas Blancas Watershed.
Permanent Field Infastructure
- A 10-m meteorological tower installed in 2012 measures air temperature and relative humidity at the 2- and 10-m heights, wind speed and direction at 10 m, solar radiation at 10 m, and barometric pressure. These data are publicly accessible on the Soltis Center website.
- Sensors on a 40+-meter walk-up canopy tower installed in 2012 include 3 eddy covariance systems, temperature and humidity sensors, net radiometers, and leaf wetness sensors at multiple heights to provide flux measurements New King Cricket species discovered on the Soltis Center property. 30 of energy, carbon, and hydrometeorological variables. This tower has also a tree plot at its base with the same inventory as the other tree plots and long-term monitoring of tree water use with sap flow sensors.
- Four permanent tree plots with each tree being tagged, identified to species, and measured for diameter. Two more at the Estacion Pocosol supply an altitudinal comparison. These are remeasured every 2 to 5 years for to evaluate tree growth and losses over time and estimate forest productivity.
- A weir dam constructed in 2012 monitors hourly discharge from the main watershed
- Weather station network along the altitudinal gradient of the Peñas Blancas river
The main purpose of the list of species presented here is to provide baseline information on the diversity of species found at the Center and elsewhere in the Peñas Blancas watershed. The lists of species are far from being complete but is based on field observations and reports, and do not necessarily respond to systematic collections. For taxonomic purposes, please refer to those databases specifically designed to review and update the species taxonomy. We invite students, researchers, and naturalists to review and improve the list of the species presented here.
Insect and Orchid Collection
The Soltis Center keeps on site a modest collection reference of insects and orchids. Insects are kept in entomological wood and glass boxes in A/C room and the orchid garden is live collection of some species found at the Center’s Forest.
Insect CollectionThe reference collection of the Soltis Center began around 2018 with support of the entomology field classed led by of Dr. Hojun Song (Texas A&M University) and Dr. Steven Marshall (University of Guelf). Also, Ronald Vargas, a parataxonomist / researcher of the Soltis Center, has contributed to the collection and identification of the specimens. The collection is located in a room exclusively dedicated to this, with air conditioning and a humidity extractor since the humid tropical environment would cause serious problems and fungi and some arthropods would quickly destroy the collection of insects.
Currently we have around 3,600 insect specimens collected and preserved in our collections.
Students, faculty and researchers are welcome to visit the synoptic collection. Direct handling of the specimens is not allowed unless demonstrated experience.