Volcán Barva


The lagoon in the crater of Barva Volcano

This weekend, I visited Braulio Carrillo National Park for the second time, but at a different sector: Barva Volcano. I’d been to the Quebrada González area further east in July of last year, where the ecosystem is more tropical rainforest than the high-altitude cloud forest of a volcano. The Quebrada González eBird hotspot has 382 species reported in 288 checklists at the time of writing this post; in stark contrast, the Volcán Barva hotspot on eBird has 82 species in only 8 checklists, including my own contribution despite arriving at the national park at around 11am, nowhere near ideal circumstances for birdwatching.

This discrepancy is likely explained both by the fact that Barva is at a higher elevation and therefore less diverse in terms of species count, but also a pretty small chunk of this massive national park. The lower diversity, however, is compensated by a higher rate of endemism, which is what occurs along high mountain gradients where habitat needs are specialized. For example, I spotted a Spangle-cheeked Tanager that’s endemic to the highlands of Costa Rica and western Panama, and there were lots of special bromeliads and mossy, licheny trees to admire. Continue reading