You’ve heard of rainforests, but what do you know about Costa Rica’s tropical dry forests, coral reefs, mangroves, and cloud forests?
The term “ecosystem” is used to describe the unique interactions between an area’s habitat and its resident plant and animal life. Costa Rica’s rich ecosystems owe their diversity to the nation’s tropical location, varying topography, climbing altitudes, and the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, which flank Costa Rica’s coasts.
Let's explore some of the ecosystems found in Costa Rica that nature lovers will love exploring.
The rainforest always has been and always will be mesmerizing. This habitat provides shelter for a wide variety of plants, animals, and fungi. This type of ecosystem requires consistent rainfall and warm temperatures. Some of the most visited tropical rainforests in Costa Rica are: Manuel Antonio National Park, Corcovado National Park, Cahuita National Park, Carara and Piedras Blancas National Park.
Tropical Dry Forest
With a dry season that lasts approximately eight months, plants and animals have adapted to fit these conditions. Trees shed their leaves during the dry season to conserve essential water. The tropical dry forests are located in lower elevations on the North Pacific coast of Costa Rica, in Guanacaste.
The ecosystem of the pacific coastline changes as you begin to travel south. The Pacific coastline varies from north to south. The north is much more rugged and backs up to the tropical dry forest.
The north region of Guanacaste is referred to as Costa Rica’s “Golden Coast” due to its warm dry weather and beautiful beaches.
Heading south, the forest changes from dry to rainforest. There is more visible wildlife on the coast the further south you head, since the forests tend to meet right up with the ocean.
This ecosystem is over 125 miles long and stretches from Nicaragua to Panama. Rainfall is more abundant on the Caribbean coastline than the Pacific and it might be higher in humidity but it makes up for it with its diverse abundance of flora and fauna.
Cloud forests are located at much higher elevations, and are much cooler.
These ecosystems are rich in fungi, orchids, lichens, ferns, and towering trees. You can just imagine the plant life that thrives in this environment! Plus, an extraordinary diversity of wildlife.
Some examples of cloud forests in Costa Rica are: Monteverde, San Gerardo de Dota, El Cerro de la Muerte, Talamanca, Chirripo, Poás, Barva, and Turrialba.
Highland Mountain Rainforest
Highland mountain rainforests are made up of predominantly evergreen trees, like ancient oaks. Life is thriving on almost every surface of this stunning landscape. Tenorio National Park and Rio Celeste are some of Costa Rica's most popular highland mountain rainforests.
The mangrove forests of Costa Rica can only be accessed by boat, as they are on the water. This ecosystem thrives in a brackish and saltwater environment. Mangroves are thick and strong, and their roots play a crucial role in water filtration. Plus, they protect our coastlines. You can observe mangroves up close by taking a boat tour in Drake Bay or Tortuguero.
A coral reef is a structure in shallow ocean areas that is formed mainly by stonelike coral skeletons. This underwater tapestry of coral, anemones, seaweed, fish, and other underwater animals is a true delight for divers and those who enjoy snorkeling.
Some of the most popular coral reefs in Costa Rica surround Isla del Coco, Cahuita National Park, the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge and Marino Ballena National Park.
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