GMOs and Agricultural Viability

Interesting article in Science Magazine on the effect of deploying genetically modified oil palm varieties. On the one hand, the higher yields produced should allow for more production on less land, which would reduce pressure on tropical forests. On the other hand, it may make land which is currently marginal for oil palm production economically viable, increasing pressure on forests.

Did anyone anticipate this? Here’s Dan Janzen in Science Magazine, 1987:.

Tropical wildlands and most of the earth’s contemporary species still exist because humanity has not had organisms capable of converting all tropical land surfaces to profitable agriculture and animal husbandry. Within one to three decades, organisms modified through genetic engineering will be capable of making agriculture or animal husbandry, or both, profitable on virtually any tropical land surface. Agricultural inviability, the single greatest tropical conservation force, will be gone.

Both papers are worth reading in full. The palm oil paper contains a discussion of the global market dynamics for oil crops that complicates the picture even further.

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Thesis Projects at Horizontes

The Horizontes Experimental Forest Research Station would like to invite students to conduct research projects at the station. Although there are many opportunities for research at Horizontes, the station staff have identified the following areas of being of high importance to their mission:

Sustainable management plans for secondary tropical dry forests in different successional stages (HIGH PRIORITY).

Studies and silvicultural intervention plans for secondary tropical dry forests.

Establishing a baseline monitoring strategy of the secondary dry forests at the station by reevaluating the existing network of permanent plots.

Design of sustainable agroforestry systems in vertisolic soils for the tropical dry forest ecosystems of the Pacific slope of Costa Rica.

Design of a solar energy generation system to establish self-sufficiency for the Horizontes Experimental Forest Research Station.

Market studies of high-value species (Guanacaste, cenízaro, mahogany, cocobolo, etc) that exist in the Horizontes Experimental Forest Research Station.

Design using plantation-grown precious wood products (Guanacaste, cenízaro, mahogany, cocobolo, etc) that exist in the Horizontes Experimental Forest Research Station.

Community Relations
Socio-economic study of populations in the area of influence of the Horizontes Experimental Forest Research Station.

Economic valuation of environmental services provided by the Horizontes Experimental Forest Research Station

For more information contact:

Lic. Milena Gutiérrez L.
Programa de Restauración y Silvicultura
Area de Conservación Guanacaste
“Sitio de Patrimonio de la Humanidad”
Tel: 2666 0630 ext 215. Fax 2665 0451

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Rainfall 2014 : The Story so Far

As you can see from the graph 2014 has been extremely dry in Guanacaste. Here’s the rainfall so far – just 702 mm – and the rains are expected to end for the year sometime in the next couple of weeks. Here’s 2012 for comparison, which was itself a dry year. Thanks to Maria Marta Chavarria for the information. (Update: the repository of past ACG weather data is here for comparison, a less up-to-date version is here if the ACG site is down.)
PP Santa Rosa enero a setiembre 2014

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Documentary: Challenges facing Costa Rica’s National Parks

Documentary produced at UNA and featuring several members of the ACG team (in spanish).

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ACG research in the press

ACG-based capuchin research conducted by Amanda Melin, Hilary Young, Krisztina Mosdossy, and Linda Fedigan has garnered some attention in the popular press.

Article in Journal of Human Evolution

Wash U. Press Release (english)

La Nación (español)

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Update: Coffee Talk in Santa Rosa

Tomorrow (Tuesday July 8) there will be an informal research presentation in the PEB classroom, Santa Rosa, at 1 PM. All are invited to attend. For more information contact Cathy Hulshof.

UPDATE: From Géraldine Derroire, PhD Candidate, FONASO Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate programme, College of Natural Sciences, School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography (SENRGY), Bangor University, Wales, United Kingdom

The research presentations that were held recently in Santa Rosa were a huge hit (so were the cacao and mesquite cookies!). Here is a brief summary of the researchers who presented their work:

  • Rolando Ramos Jiménez: Activities conducted by the Programa de Educación Biológica
  • Cathy Hulshof: Taxonomic and functional diversity along an altitudinal gradient in Peninsula Santa Elena
  • Géraldine Derroire: Secondary succession in tropical dry forests
  • Saul Chevez Hernandez and Monica Myers: Ecology, behavior, genetics and physiology of primates in ACG
  • Tim Treuer: Determinants of structure and composition of biological communities in a regenerating dry forest using ultrasonic and audio recorders
  • Christina Smith: Liana diversity and abundance in tropical dry forests of ACG and Palo Verde
  • Leland Werden: Restoration of dry forest on vertisols in Estación Experimental Forestal Horizontes
  • Monica Myers: Phytoestrogens and primate diet and behavior
  • Daniel Perez Aviles: Availability for plant identification needs

Thanks to PEB for hosting us and thank you all for coming! We hope you can join us for future Charlas con Café!


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Photo Expo at the Casona

Banner expo Casona
Estimados usuarios,
Los invitamos a disfrutar de la exposición Fotográfica Costa Rica: Fronteras Naturales
Lugar: Museo Histórico Casona de Santa Rosa
Horario: 8am a 4pm
Para más informes al Tel 2666 5051 o e-mail

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ACG Fire Hotspots 2014 from CONABIO

They say a picture is worth 1000 words, and the image below, from Mexico’s CONABIO, illustrates just how brutal this year’s fire season was for the ACG, and Horizontes in particular.
link to the CONABIO early alert system
Get more info and view the data for Mexico and Central America at the project website.

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New GDFCF website launched

The Guanacaste Dry Forest Conservation Fund has relaunched their website, go check it out.

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Bird survey in the ACG this week

From Jairo Moya Vargas of Sectores:

Esteemed colleagues,

Sectores, with support from the Programa de Investigación, reminds and invites you to participate in the bird count beginning tomorrow, June 14.

Recall that the activity is to record all the birds you can observe and identify this week, and then share those records next Saturday.

We look forward to your participation.

Jairo Moya Vargas
Sectores, ACG

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 10.19.11 PM

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