Long-Term Research in Environmental Biology: Costa Rica

Maritza Biological Station (Estación Biológica Maritza)

Dormitory at Maritza, with Volcán Orosí

In early 1988 Stroud Water Research Center began to transform a small farm into a biological field station (i.e., Maritza, at 10º 57´ 25" N, 85º 29´ 42" W, 590 m), the only research station in the ACG devoted to understanding tropical streams and their watersheds.

This location was chosen because provides easy access to numerous permanent and intermittent streams that drain watersheds on the slopes of Volcán Orosí (1450 m a.s.l.) and Volcán Cacao (659 m a.s.l.). These dormant volcanoes define the northern limit of the Cordillera de Guanacaste.

Vegetation immediately adjacent to and upslope of Maritza is characteristic of mid-elevation tropical dry forest that is semi-deciduous during the dry season. Read more about Maritza’s vegetation.

President Rafael Calderón with Stroud Director Bern Sweeney at 1991 dedication

Stroud staff quickly set up research projects and worked with local officials to design and construct the research and living facilities. Under an innovative "debt-for-nature" swap orchestrated by The Nature Conservancy and the Costa Rican government, the Stroud Foundation and the Stroud family and friends provided the funds to construct and equip five buildings on the site.

When President Rafael Calderón dedicated Maritza as a permanent research facility in 1991, the Stroud staff already had intensive long-term investigations under way on six streams that drain the area’s virgin forest.

The ongoing research at Maritza includes detailed studies of hydrology, biogeochemistry, microbiology, organic chemistry, organic food inputs, population and community ecology, pesticide analyses and genetics.

In the process of pursuing our ecological questions and the assistance of our colleagues in aquatic insect systematics, we have discovered numerous new species and associated named adults with previously undescribed larval stages that live in these streams.

Our work on pristine streams near Maritza forms a baseline foundation from which we are now asking fundamental questions about streams in other environments throughout Costa Rica.

Reared adult caddisfly from Río Tempisquito, Nectopsyche utleyorum Holzethal