Small artists exchanged experiences

Five children from Cadiz, Spain, winners of the first National Poster Contest for the Conservation of Wetlands (organized by INBio, the City Council of Cadiz and the Ministry of Public Education), visited Costa Rica from the 16 to the 20th of November.

The schoolgirls came in a delegation accompanied by their parents and civil employees of the Mayor’s office of Cadiz. They visited INBioparque, Tortuguero National Park, and Irazu Volcano, among other places.

The children met the last day with the winners of the Costa Rican poster contest, to create a group painting with the motto “Let’s show the world the wealth of the wetlands”.

The event is part of a cooperation agreement signed in 2008 between INBio and the City Council of Cadiz, whose main objective is to create a space for the artistic development of children and to foster their sensitivity towards biodiversity.

The participants left Costa Rica extremely motivated and thankful, and the bonds of friendship between the children of both countries were strengthened.

INBo’s Unit of Education actively participated in the organization and execution of the activity. It was also supported by the National Conservation Areas, as well as sponsored by the Hotel Laguna Lodge.


Insect photographs at INBio

Insect specimens, kept in INBio’s collections, are featured in the photograph exhibit "Art and Biodiversity", displayed onsite at the institute, in Santo Domingo de Heredia.

Butterflies, beetles and grasshoppers are some of the insects that “posed” for the cameras of five talented Costa Rican photographers, winners of the contest organized by INBio and the Museum of Costa Rican Art.

Oscar Abarca, Ana Joyce Chinchilla, Jorge Corrales, Alonso Sanchez and Juan Carlos Tercero were selected between 45 contestants to photograph INBio’s insect collections, usually reserved only for researchers.

The jury was composed by Rodrigo Ruby and Rebeca Alpizar, photographers, and the entomologist Manuel Zumbado, curator of INBio’s Department of Arthropods.

The exhibit includes 50 pictures of the winners of the contest, along with information on the natural history of each species. It will be open to the public at INBio until January 24, 2010.  


New exhibition in INBioparque alerts about climate change

Visitors at INBioparque can now learn about climate change and how to prevent it from happening thanks to a new exhibition inaugurated recently.

Titled “Climate change: causes and consequences”, this exhibition includes tridimensional figures such as polar bears and penguins, photographs and scientific data about the effects of climate change on our planet.

It also incorporates a 12 minute video that alerts visitors about how thousands of species in Costa Rica could disappear if climate alteration by humans continues.

According to Dr. Rodrigo Gamez, INBio’s president, the exhibition hopes to teach families, in a simple way, what is climate change and what specific actions can be taken to mitigate its effects.

“We desperately need to lower carbon dioxide emissions. It has to be a global commitment. Children and adults need to understand the seriousness of the problem so we can solve it in time”, said Gamez.

The exhibit measures 100 square meters and cost $40.000 to build, amount that was donated by the British government.


Fungi production and taxonomy in Bhutan

Bhutan’s experience in harvesting fungi on oak and alder trunks has given way to the development of four pilot experiences in the communities of Cerro de la Muerte, Costa Rica.

Now is the opportunity for INBio to learn more about the field experience of The National Fungi Center in Bhutan and to help them set up a national fungi collection, a clear necessity in the country for which they have asked INBio to help.

Milagro Mata and Eduardo ..., from INBio’s Fungi area, are in Bhutan from August 1st to 22nd to learn more about fungi harvesting and to support taxonomic capacity in the country.

Also, they will have the opportunity to witness other mushroom production experiences in India and Thailand (August 24-31) and will receive training in Spanish harvesting techniques in Barcelona (Sept. 4-9).

Two technicians from Bhutan (who worked for a month in INBio) will be part of the support team for INBio’s personnel in the collecting, identification and set up of the collection. This work will be taken over by Bhutanese technicians after the departure of INBio’s personnel.


INBio and CATIE sign cooperation agreement

August 13, 2009: The National Institute of Biodiversity (INBio) and the Tropical Agronomical Center for Research and Education (CATIE) signed a 5-year cooperation agreement, in order to promote joint projects that contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

This agreement will facilitate joint research projects, as well as training and education in areas such as conservation and biodiversity use in agroforestry landscapes, technical and legal aspects of access to genetic resources, biosecurity and intellectual property in agriculture and elements of wild biodiversity, among others.


Bird station celebrates anniversary

The INBio-PIF Station for Monitoring, Education and Training of Birds, located at INBioparque, celebrated its first anniversary on August 11th.

This station, the only one in Latin America where interns are trained in bird monitoring and ringing techniques, was originated from a joint initiative between INBio, Partners In Flight (PIF) y the US Forest Service.

The idea behind this initiative is to collect information about the functionality of urban ecosystems, migratory routes, survival, birds’ physical conditions, as well as the population tendencies of migratory and resident birds.

All birds captured by fog traps receive an aluminum ring that contains a unique number in the world. Once ringed, several data are taken such as weight, fat, age, sex, time of capture, among others. Then this information is introduced to a database that compares it with data from stations all over the continent.

The ringing process takes place every second Tuesday at INBioparque. Volunteers are trained and the general public receives a brief talk. The visitors’ response has been very positive and scientifically, this information has proven very valuable to ornithologists.

If you would like more information, please contact Pablo Elizondo or Álvaro Herrera


INBio provides training in Benin

As part of the joint projects between Costa Rica, Benin y Bhutan, with the support of Fundecooperación, INBio provided training in Benin in the area of “parataxonomists” or people who develop biodiversity inventories.

This time, the training was not given to park rangers or protected area neighbors (as has been INBio’s past experience), but to technical personnel from various institutions and University Abomey Calavi teachers, in subjects of enthomology and collection development.

INBio’s staff, Manuel Zumbado and Carlos Hernández, travelled to Benin to develop a field course, similar to the “parataxonomists” one, on July 13-24 in a region where jungle and wetlands are predominant.

Part of their work included supporting the purchase of equipment and literature required for the new fungi laboratory that will be built in the next months.


New Mushroom Station at INBioparque

As of Thursday, July 9, 2009, visitors to INBioparque have the opportunity to witness the production and uses of mushrooms, thanks to the inauguration of a new mushroom station.

These new facilities will also allow the National Biodiversity Institute (INBio) strengthen its research aiming at promoting the cultivation of mushrooms, both of new wild and commercially known species.

At this project, institutions from Benin (Africa), Bhutan (Asia) and Costa Rica have been working during the last year in an exchange of experiences with the aim to promote sustainable uses of biodiversity in each country.

As an example, thanks to the expertise developed by the National Mushroom Centre of Bhutan, Costa Rica has started the production of mushrooms at four communities at Cerro de la Muerte, using alder and oak logs, the same way they do in Bhutan. The new Mushroom Station at INBioparque will allow, among others, to guarantee the supply of spawn to these new producers.

Visitors to the “World of Mushrooms” at INBioparque, besides watching scientists at work and learning interest data of this Kingdom, will be able to walk among more than five giant-size mushroom species and live a Fungi Adventure with interactive games throughout trails surrounded by forests.


INBio present in e-Biosphere 09

Members of the National Institute of Biodiversity (INBio) participated recently in the international conference on biodiversity informatics, e-Biosphere 09, which took place in London, England.

This conference, the largest about this subject to date, had as its main objective to highlight the achievements in Biodiversity Informatics today and to discuss strategies for its future.

Biodiversity Informatics is a field that brings information science and technologies to bear on the data and information generated by the study of organisms, their genes, and their interactions. In doing so, it is creating unprecedented global access to information on biological species and their role in nature.

INBio was represented by Jaime Gutiérrez (with the poster “Towards a New Generation of Naturalist Citizens: Generating and Delivering Multimedia Biodiversity Information and Knowledge to Empower Citizens”) y María Auxiliadora Mora (with the poster “A Web-Based Toolkit for the Establishment of Biodiversity Information Generation, Management and Dissemination Systems”).

Also, INBio’s director of Biodiversity Science, Jesús Ugalde, presented the poster "Establishing Ecosystem Conservation Priorities in the Neotropics by Integrating Biodiversity and Geospatial Data", and Erick Mata, director of Biodiversity Informatics, participated in the discussion panel “Cultural Challenges and Changes" and as coauthor of the poster "Biovisualizador(c) a three dimensional visualization tool for taxonomic trees”.

For more information:


Botanical garden in Leon begins construction

De izquierda a derecha:

Juan Sebatian Chamorro, Director Cuenta Reto del Milenio
Ole Overaas, Encargado de Negocios de la Embajada de Noruega en Nicaragua
Maritza Vargas Paiz, Rectora de la UNAN-León
Roberto Araquistain, Viceministro, Ministerio de Ambiente y Recursos Naturales de Nicaragua
Alfio Piva, Director Ejecutivo del INBio
Manuel Calderón, Alcalde de la Ciudad de León.
Ricardo Rueda, Vicerrector de Asuntos Externos UNAN-León

On June 3rd, the foundation stone was laid for the Botanical and Environmental Garden, of Leon, Nicaragua. This garden is a project of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Nicaragua, Leon (UNAN Leon), which has received support from INBio and the Norwegian government.

In a ceremony where the memory of former UNAN’s President and promoter of the garden, Dr. Rigoberto Sampson Granera, was honored, the infrastructure development process was begun so that visitors can soon enjoy Nicaraguan plants from dry, wet, gallery and transition forests.

The ceremony was attended by representatives from UNAN Leon, the Norwegian government, INBio, Leon’s Mayoralty, and the Millennium Challenge Account, as well as stockbreeding and farming producers, mass media, neighbors and the university community.

The Botanical Garden has been conceived as the most important ex situ conservation site in Mesoamerica for dry forest plants. This ecosystem is one of the most threatened and vulnerable to climate change.

The establishment of this garden has been done thanks to the technical joint team UNAN Leon - INBio and the financial support of the Norwegian government. The ground work began on November 2008 with the transfer and planting of specimens in the 23 acres that make up the garden.

The Botanical Garden will open its doors next December to the Nicaraguan community, tourists who travel to Leon, as well as international visitors interested in dry forest conservation.


Goodbye to Alvaro Sancho

Last March, INBio lost one of its greatest supporters and founding member, Mr. Alvaro Sancho Castro.

Mr. Sancho was INBio’s Treasurer for several years and played an important and active role in the organization’s development.

“We will remember him for his rigorous style and sound judgment in everything related to the institutional finances. He was always accessible for consults and ready to help in anything he could, thus contributing in a very special and important way to INBio’s development”, said Rodrigo Gamez, President of INBio.

“We will remember him with respect, admiration and fondness, and the best homage we can pay him is to continue following his teachings and principles. We will continue to make INBio’s dreams --which he enthusiastically shared with us-- a reality”, he added

Training in shiitake mushroom cultivation

Forty two people from four rural communities in Costa Rica received training in shiitake mushroom cultivation, using traditional Bhutanese technology.

The training was provided by Dr. Dawa Penjor, with assistance from Lal Bahadur Tamang, from the National Mushroom Center, in the Agriculture Ministry of Bhutan (Asia). They received support from Enia Navarro, Milagro Mata and Eduardo Alvarado from the Fungi Unit of the National Biodiversity Institute (INBio).

The 11-hour course was given in four communities of Cerro de la Muerte: Macho Mora, Piedra Alta, Villa Mills and Siberia. In addition to the training, each community installed an area for cultivation and will receive technical support from the Bhutan and INBio specialists.

This initiative is part of the South-South Cooperation Project that INBio executes with Bhutan and Benin, with resources from the Dutch government assigned to Fundecooperación.

For the 26 men and 15 women who participated in the training, the cultivation of the shiitake mushroom represents an opportunity to diversify their sources of income. Production is expected to start in November of this year.


Joint Project INBio SAIT Polytechnic

INBio and SAIT Polytechnic develop Project to determine land coverage in the Costa Rican Caribbean region

INBio’s GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and Remote Sensing Unit and SAIT Polytechnic in Canada are developing a joint Project to determine land coverage in the Costa Rican Caribbean region.

Students from SAIT have worked on satellite images and the organization COTERC has brought in information from the field. Their efforts, plus INBio’s technical and scientific support, will help to determine the different land uses in the Tortuguero and La Amistad-Caribe conservation areas.

The obtained information will be incorporated in ecosystem classification maps, in order to identify, for example, forests and wetlands.

For more information, please contact Oscar Chacón or Heiner Acevedo


Advances INBio – Veragua Biological Station

INBio’s contributions to the ecotourism project Veragua Rainforest (located in the Caribbean region of Costa Rica and inaugurated on July 2008) include the following:

* Biological Station. INBio participated as an adviser in its construction, in order to have a properly equipped station and with trained personnel to develop research.

Thanks to the work being done in the station, from May 2008 to January 2009, 4.729 specimens of insects have been collected and deposited in the National Biodiversity Inventory.

* Butterfly garden and Insectarium. INBio provided advice during the building process and until both sites were opened, including the insect sculptures.

* Research. There are 2 research sites (Piti and Gigantes) being developed in Veragua in order to gather better knowledge of the area’s biodiversity:

  • Ant diversity in the forest’s floor
  • Measurement of biological diversity of beetles
  • Monitoring and measurement of biological diversity of fruit eating butterflies

In the next months, there will be robust results in terms of comparison and analysis of data in these groups of insects.

As a interesting fact, on January 2009, a female individual of the species Tetrisia florígera, Walker 1867, was collected. This is the first specimen that is deposited in a scientific collection in Costa Rica. It demonstrates how a species can remain undetected more than 98 years.


Advances INBio – Villa Blanca Biological Station

Since its inauguration on November 2008, the INBio-Villa Blanca Biological Station has enabled the advancement of biodiversity knowledge in the San Ramon area, especially regarding butterflies and moths.

In total, 2.457 insect specimens have been collected (from June 2008 to January 2009). These specimens were incorporated in INBio’s Arthropods collection.

Three areas of research have been established:

  1. Inventory of moths larvae
    A total of 200 witnesses of butterflies and moths have been harvested in the station’s laboratory. The species are being identified.
  2. Inventory of adult moths
    A total of 1.982 specimens have been collected; of those, 572 have been identified representing 289 species. The rest of the 1.410 specimens are being identified.
  3. Diversity of fruit eating butterflies
    Through fruit traps, 225 fruit eating butterflies have been collected; they represent 32 species, of those 7 species are endemic (five are endemic to Costa Rica and Panama, one is endemic to Nicaragua and Costa Rica, and another is endemic to Nicaragua and Panamá).

Children painted wetlands and won

Six elementary school children will travel to Cadiz, Spain, after winning the first National Poster Contest for the Conservation of Wetlands, organized by INBio, the Cadiz City Council, and the Costa Rican Ministry of Public Education.

The contest, that took place in INBioparque on March 13, gathered eleven children from different public schools. They had gone through a first round selection process and now had to express again, through painting, the importance of wetlands and their conservation.

Winners Mauren Calderon, Kendal Flores, Rebeca Gamboa, Tomas Guzman, Jeison Mendoza y Josselyn Rivera will travel in June to Cadiz, where they will visit Doñana National Park and other places under the auspices of the Cadiz City Council.

Their Spanish counterparts will also have a chance to travel to Costa Rica this year.

This event is part of a cooperation agreement signed in 2008 between the Cadiz City Council and INBio. The agreement includes, among other things, creating spaces for artistic development and sensitivity towards biodiversity among children.

Also, it is framed under the programmatic axis “Quality of Education” that the Costa Rican Ministry develops to promote a harmonious relationship with nature.


INBio allies with Encyclopedia of Life

INBio and the Encyclopedia of Life, a global scientific effort to document the 1.8 million of species that live in our planet, will work jointly to incorporate information in Spanish.

The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) is an unprecedented global effort where scientists, students, and citizens will have multi-media access to web pages about all known living species, even those that have just been discovered.

Currently, most of the 100,000 species pages currently available at the EOL portal ( are in English.

“However, we are in the process of incorporating content in other languages, too, by working with our international partners like INBio”, said Dr. Jim Edwards, EOL’s Executive Director.

In this way, 4074 species that INBio has described in Spanish in its own web page can be incorporated to the EOL.

The EOL Steering Committee met at INBio and is composed of representatives from Harvard University, Smithsonian Institution, the Field Museum (Chicago) and the Missouri Botanical Garden, among others.



Self Sufficient House at INBioparque

A house where solar light is used to heat water and cook; where rainwater is collected and filtered (and yes, it can be drunk), and where food is produced in a hydroponic garden.

This is the Self Sufficient House at INBioparque, in Santo Domingo de Heredia, a project that shows visitors that a house can be self sufficient using alternative energy sources, recycling materials and taking advantage of what nature has to offer.

This project, done jointly with the National Utility Company (CNFL), displays more than 12 sustainable techniques that families can implement in their own homes.
Besides electricity generated by solar light, wind and a biodigestor, the house features a solar water heater, a solar and a gas kitchens, efficient toilets, natural lightning, water recycling and a hydroponic garden.


Workshps in Benin and Bhutan

As part of the cooperation projects in biodiversity being developed by Benin, Bhutan and Costa Rica, several workshops took place in January. These projects are being funded by Fundecooperación through its Program of Southern Cooperation.

  1. Project Information Management Systems about Biodiversity: Manuel Vargas and Jaime Gutiérrez, members of INBio’s staff, traveled to Benin (Africa) y Bhutan (Asia) to develop two evaluation workshops about the needs and availability of biodiversity information in both countries.

 The workshops will serve as a starting point in the design of a national system of biodiversity information, according to the guidelines established by the Convention of Biological Diversity.

    • Project Use of Non Timber Products from the Forest: Manuel Zumbado y Carlos Hernández, from INBio, traveled to Benin in order to exchange experiences in the collection and identification methods of insects in both countries. Also, our partner, the Faculty of Agronomy in the University Abomey Calavi, shared their knowledge about the harvesting and consumption of insects, including several field trips where traditional uses were observed.

Good bye to a friend of INBio

Ian GauldLast January 13, renowned entomologist Dr. Ian Gauld passed away. He worked at the Natural History Museum in England and was INBio’s good friend and collaborator.

According to INBio’s president, Dr. Rodrigo Gámez, Dr. Gauld arrived to Costa Rica with a group of English scientists brought in by Dr. Daniel Janzen in 1989, when the organization was barely starting.

Dr. Gauld participated in the first “parataxonomists” courses and helped to train INBio’s staff. He developed the taxonomy of a group of Costa Rican wasps and, thanks to his contribution knowledge of this group was greatly advanced.

Pam Mitchell & Ian GauldIn 1993, he was coeditor of the book, "Hymenoptera and Biodiversity", where he included a chapter about INBio and its innovative approach to the study of biodiversity.

“To those who knew him and had an opportunity to interact with him, it is clear that the life of a great scientist, a first rate taxonomist and a good friend and collaborator of INBio has come to an end and we are deeply sorry for it”, said Dr. Gámez.


A digital Bio-calendar for 2009

Accompany each month of 2009 with an image of Costa Rican biodiversity in your computer: INBio has made available a digital Bio-calendar to be used as screen background (desktop).

The Bio-Calendar includes interesting images of different species, as well as the main commemorative dates related to the environment, both local and international.

This product was developed by an interdisciplinary team of specialized scientists, photographers and graphic designers.

To download the Bio-calendar click here

Home | INBio | Biodiversity | Services | INBioparque | INBio Editorial | Site map | Web Survey