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The ANAI Stream Biomonitoring Program: Report on Activities in the Greater Talamanca Region (Costa Rica/Panama) during Calendar Year 2007.

Dr. William O. McLarney Maribel Mafla H. Program Directors

Talamanca (Lim贸n) Costa Rica January, 2008 i

The Asociacion ANAI Stream Biomonitoring Program: Report on Activities in the Greater Talamanca Region (Costa Rica/Panama) during Calendar Year 2007.

Dr. William O. McLarney Maribel Mafla H. Directores del Programa

Talamanca (Lim贸n) Costa Rica January, 2008 ii

A NOTE ABOUT THE MAPS IN THIS REPORT: Our plan was to include in this document maps as good as, or better than, those which graced our 2006 report. These maps would have shown in detail the location of all our monitoring sites, the boundaries of PILA, the routes taken to access remote sites in both countries, the relation of the streams and lagoons in the Madre de Dios/Pacuare watershed, etc. However, in November, in the midst of serious flooding and a strike by the workers of ICE (the national power company), the computer system at our Hone Creek office crashed, with considerable permanent loss of maps and other documents. Recognizing that this report would be coming out late even without a map crisis, we are taking the expedient course. The maps herein do not represent our best work, but a necessary compromise between quality and the need to get information out in the short run. Specifically, Figure 1 shows only the PILA Project monitoring sites, omitting 13 sites unrelated to that site, and the color coding leaves something to desire. Figure 2 is complete, but would be better broken down into two or more maps. It will be at best several months before we have anything approaching what we had hoped to produce, but please don’t be afraid to ask for better maps and/or more detail re site locations.












Introduction Site selection and logistics – Costa Rica Site selection and logistics – Panama Parataxonomist training Results – Costa Rica Results – Panama Conclusions 4. THE DAM ISSUE




Madre de Dios Rio Hondo Lagoon monitoring Training Talamanca lagoons 6. ADVANCES IN BENTHIC MACROINVERTEBRATE MONITORING










Introduction Program in schools Community outreach 11. 2007 PROGRAM STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS







EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The keynote of 2007 for the Asociacion ANAI Biomonitoring Program was growth of capacity. We were able to use two contract jobs which had the potential to distract us from our core responsibilities to enhance and diversify our capability to work in Greater Talamanca while improving our educational offering and continuing to offer our traditional services: • Pacuare Watershed Project : A contract project with the Costa Rican Ministry of Natural Resources (MINAE), funded by the Fundacion de Parques Nacionales was designed to begin to unravel the mysteries surrounding periodic fish kills in the coastal lagoons north of the city of Puerto Limon. It laid some of the groundwork for application of biomonitoring methods in evaluating the effects of industrial scale agriculture on watersheds, while simultaneously initiating a process of environmental education and capacity building for residents of both the inland and coastal portions of one of the most affected watersheds (Rio Pacuare). Equally important to ANAI, it motivated us to develop effective biomonitoring methods for coastal lagoons, which we have already begun to replicate in the lagoons of Talamanca. This substantially enhances the training package we can offer to residents of other watersheds throughout Central America. • La Amistad International Park (PILA) Project: In response to a request from The Nature Conservancy’s Parks in Peril (PIP) program, we monitored a suite of paired sites in and downstream of the La Amistad International Park (PILA) in both Costa Rica and Panama. The results demonstrated that, with few exceptions the Park is serving its function of protecting aquatic biodiversity, while allowing us to identify existing and potential problems affecting the streams of PILA. At the same time the PILA project, which took us into areas more remote than any we had monitored before, confirmed the value of MesoAmerican streams as altitudinal biological corridors while underscoring the importance of upstream protected areas in protecting water quality, biodiversity and fishery resources in inhabited areas downstream. While the Pacuare watershed project necessarily took us out of the Talamanca region for extended periods of time, by means of careful planning we were still able to complete our goal of monitoring at least 30 sites in our principal service area. Overall, we carried out complete biomonitoring evaluations (fish sample, benthic macroinvertebrate sample and physical habitat assessment) on 43 sites – 29 in Talamanca (Costa Rica) and 14 in Bocas del Toro (Panama). Biotic Index scores and BioClass Ratings for all 43 sites are given in Table 1 of this report. We are particularly proud of the fact that, due to continuing difficulty in obtaining scientific collecting permits in Panama, we successfully turned all 12 of the PILA-related Panamanian sites over to a team of indigenous (Naso and Ngobe) parataxonomists who have benefitted from periodic training with the ANAI team in Talamanca since 2004. Their consistently clear and credible results, using methods which do not require collection of biological materials, confirm our belief that rural residents, lacking in university education and without costly equipment, can be trained to perform biomonitoring analyses in their own watersheds. It thus validates the educational concept which ANAI and the Biomonitoring Team are developing for regional use.


Through judicious site selection we were able to realize maximum benefit from the biomonitoring process and make significant progress in 4 areas described below, without greatly increasing the work load in the field: • Hydro dam issues: Results from all 12 of the sites monitored by the Panamanian parataxonomists contributed directly to strengthening our arguments against the completion of 4 large hydroelectric dams in the Changuinola/Teribe watershed, which would have disastrous effects on biodiversity in the Panamanian portion of PILA (a World Heritage Site) while also impacting downstream fisheries and indigenous cultures and communities. (As of this writing, preconstruction activities, including removal of residents against their will, are underway at two of the sites.) Two other sites in Panama and many of the PILA-related sites in Costa Rica provided significant information related to other dam sites which exist on paper. Based on these and previous results, we produced two popular articles (in Fisheries and The George Wright Forum) and a technical review dealing with the foreseen effects of the dams. The technical review was packaged together with a petition prepared by the Center for Biological Diversity and presented to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Committee at their 2007 meeting in New Zealand, asking that La Amistad/Panama be placed on the list of World Heritage in Danger if dam construction proceeds. As a result a UNESCO inspection team will be visiting PILA in both countries during early 2008. • Advances in Benthic Macroinvertebrate Monitoring: We continue to be involved in a national (Costa Rica) effort to critique the BMWP index for benthic macroinvertebrate monitoring, officially adopted for use by the Costa Rican government, but increasingly seen to be inadequate for the more tropical regions of the country, such as Talamanca. Maribel Mafla of the ANAI Biomonitoring Team has been active in a national committee to review BMWP and make suggestions. During 2007, thanks in large part to the efforts of intern Ana Maria Arias (from the U. of Tolima, Colombia), we were able to systematize our macroinvertebrate database and collections and initiate analyses which will eventually contribute to the national discussion of BMWP while aiding ANAI in the development of modifications and alternatives. • Visual Fish-Based Biomonitoring: During the 2007 field season we continued to refine our low-cost, non-intrusive Visual Index of Biotic Integrity (IBIVI), putting it to work in carrying out 26 of the total 43 fish samples, including all sites monitored in Panama. Part of the emphasis was on using IBIVI on sites previously monitored using the capture-based IBITAL. IBIVI results were in all cases comparable and in fact we perceive it as the preferred method for some sites, even when higher sampling technology is available. Based on 2007 results we will make further modifications to the IBIVI for inclusion in future training courses and written instructional materials. This represents an enormous advance toward making biomonitoring methodology economically available to rural communities. • Stream Restoration: While, for reasons which are largely financial, we were unable to move forward with a projected stream restoration project based on Natural Channel Design principles which would be the first of its kind in Latin America, we continued to develop baseline monitoring data on the planned site on Quebrada Pijao, as well as on two neighboring reference


sites. Tree planting and natural changes (both positive and negative) continue to occur on the site and are being extensively photodocumented. While we were not able to expand our permanent staff (which remains at 2 individuals) as hoped, we compensated by continuing to improve our capability to take good advantage of volunteer assistance. Two year-long internships by students from the U. of Tolima were particularly helpful, but short-term volunteers and local trainees also contributed. One of the benefits of full-time, high quality volunteer assistance was to permit us to spend more time on the publication and educational aspects of our work. Thanks in large part to intern effort we were able to: • • • • •

nearly complete mapping of fish occurrence records throughout Talamanca greatly expand and improve our fish photo library develop a field key to Talamancan freshwater fishes complete the text for the forthcoming monograph on Talamancan freshwater fishes begin work on a fish monitoring section for a new edition of our existing guide to stream monitoring in Talamanca.

Another set of less formal publications was developed as part of our new educational program in rural schools and communities. These materials, ranging from field data sheets to instructional manuals to PowerPoint presentations to T-shirts with a biomonitoring theme, were created as part of the pilot season of a long-anticipated educational program which will eventually reach all of Talamanca. In 2007, with the support of the Costa Rican Ministry of Education, we were able to present biomonitoring programs for elementary school and adult groups in 6 Talamancan communities (as well as the town of Bataan in the Pacuare watershed). The enthusiastic reception by both teachers and students confirmed us in our idea of expanding this program for the future, beginning in 2008. We are also committed to at least one series of workshops for representatives of communities from Bocas del Toro, and have proposed further training activities for groups from as far away as Belize. It may be that in the future we will look back and see the most significant accomplishment by the ANAI Biomonitoring Team in 2007 as being these steps toward the total integration of the practical monitoring and educational functions.


The Asociacion ANAI Stream Biomonitoring Program: Annual Report on Activities 1. INTRODUCTION The year 2007 saw a significant expansion in the work of the Asociacion ANAI Talamanca Stream Biomonitoring Program – not in terms of permanent staff, infrastructure or budget, but with respect to our scope and capability. Geographically, in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy’s Parks in Peril Program (PIP) and the Costa Rican Ministry of Natural Resources (MINAE), we extended our boundaries to encompass remote areas on the fringes of the binational (Costa Rica-Panama) La Amistad International Peace Park (here referred to by its Spanish acronym, PILA) as well as the coastal lagoons and their watersheds north of the city of Puerto Limon. In terms of capability, we developed new monitoring methodologies for the special situation of coastal lagoons and other methods which further facilitate the participation of local citizens and community groups everywhere. More important, in neighboring Bocas del Toro, Panama, we were able to turn PIP-sponsored field work over almost entirely to teams of indigenous parataxonomists trained in Talamanca during 2004-2007, and all concerned were extremely pleased with the results. Our long term vision has always been to develop and institutionalize aquatic biomonitoring methodologies which are within the reach of Talamancan communities, and to share our successes outside the region. We also wish to honor ANAI’s long term commitment to serve the Talamancan community by continuing to serve as a technical resource through maintaining a growing database on the health of the region’s streams, and through being available to provide ongoing training, technical support, verification of results, assistance with reporting and institutional credibility to community groups. This report on our work in 2007 demonstrates progress toward achieving both parts of our vision. In addition to summarizing results from the field during the year and describing our success in developing and sharing new methodologies, we have also included a section outlining how we have begun to systematize our programs in schools and with groups in individual communities. We are confident that accounts of education and training experiences will form a major part of our 2008 annual report. In the introduction to our 2003-2004 report we offered our opinion that “biomonitoring should be seen as a public service, comparable to public health facilities or public schools; it should become part of the culture”. We ask the reader to understand our reports as part of a continuum toward this goal. As with any long term scientific investigation program, the accumulation of information by the Talamanca Stream Biomonitoring Program amounts to compiling history, which enriches the culture. More important, we measure our success in terms of our ability to make that history accessible and understandable, and in involving ordinary citizens, in Talamanca and elsewhere, in evolving a culture which cherishes and protects natural resources and biodiversity.


2. SUMMARY OF 2007 BIOMONITORING RESULTS IN TALAMANCA AND BOCAS DEL TORO Table 1 (See appendices) summarizes the results obtained from monitoring 43 stream sites in Talamanca and Bocas del Toro during February-May, 2007. The map (Figure 1) shows most of the sites in Talamanca and Bocas del Toro monitored in 2007. (But see map disclaimer following the Table of Contents). Detailed discussion of many of these sites will be found in some of the following sections of this report. Here we wish to present an overview, with rationale for site selection. Sites in Costa Rica (29) were monitored by the ANAI Stream Biomonitoring Program team, assisted in 4 instances by the group of Naso and Ngobe parataxonomists from Bocas del Toro. Of 14 sites in Panama, 12 were monitored exclusively by the parataxonomists; the two sites in the Rio San San watershed were monitored by the ANAI program directors plus one local assistant.

Fig 1. Rivers and creeks ecologically assessed using the IBITAL, IBIVI, BMWP-CR and SVAPTAL indices. LEGEND: Towns and settlements, Sites monitored in Panama, Sites monitored in Costa Rica, Rivers and streams, Palo Seco Forest Reserve, PILA Panama, PILA Costa Rica, Hitoy-Cerere Biological Reserve, Estrella and Sixaola watersheds, San San and Changuinola watersheds, Costa Rica, Panama. 5

Results in Table 1 are shown in the following categories: • •

• • •

Ecosystem health as determined through analysis of the fish assemblage, using the Talamanca Index of Biotic Integrity (IBITAL) or the new, provisional Visual Index of Biotic Integrity (IBIVI). (See text section on IBIVI for methodological differences.) Ecosystem health as determined by analysis of benthic macroinvertebrate samples, using the BMWP (Biological Monitoring Working Party) index officially recognized by the government of Costa Rica. (See text section on macroinvertebrates for discussion of BMWP vs. other indices.) Physical habitat assessment results from application of the SVAP (Stream Visual Assessment Protocol) index, modified for Talamanca. Final Bioclass Rating determined through discussion of the results of the 3 indices just mentioned plus any additional observations at the site. Perceived trend at the site (stable, improving or declining), where applicable, with probable causes of change.

Of a total 43 sites, all 14 sites in Panama and 16 additional sites in Costa Rica were monitored as part of the PILA project. Rationale for selection of the other 13 sites in Costa Rica was as follows: • • • •

• •

A site on the Rio Sandbox was chosen as being ideal for a “refresher” site for the Panamanian parataxonomists to practice IBITAL, BMWP and SVAP methodologies. The Rio Cauchero and Rio Niney sites were also used as training opportunities, with emphasis on the IBIVI method. Further testing of the IBIVI methodology was the primary motivation for a pair sites on the Rio Bitey and its tributary, Rio Bocuare. Three increasingly stressed sites located conveniently near to ANAI’s field office in Hone Creek (Hotel Creek, Rio Patino and Quebrada Carbon) have been selected for annual monitoring as fixed stations, with the goal of documenting trends over a long period of time. It is still our hope that Quebrada Pijao will eventually be the site of a pioneering stream restoration project, thus annual monitoring is a necessity. Two similar sized streams nearby (Quebrada Ambrosio and Quebrada Pedro) were monitored in an attempt to establish reference conditions for the restoration work. Middle Creek in Gandoca was monitored based primarily on fears of impacts due to logging activities in the watershed. A section of Tuba Creek located between two earlier monitoring sites on that stream was sampled in response to requests from residents of the watershed.

We are continually updating the discussion of trends by regions within Talamanca, and will publish updated versions, with accompanying color-coded maps, every few years. One explanatory note on Table 1 is perhaps necessary. Casual comparison of the data with that for previous years will reveal 24 new sites (10 of them in Talamanca), with an unusually high proportion of sites rated Excellent or Good. This does not reflect some sudden improvement in 6

water quality or land management, but is a consequence of the PILA study. The nature of that project was such that in 2007 much of our work, in both Costa Rica and Panama, was concentrated in remote areas where human disturbance is minimal. In most years our monitoring work has been concentrated on the more populated areas; this year’s emphasis on wildlands sites serves to remind us how much relatively unmodified biodiversity remains to be protected in Talamanca and Bocas del Toro.

3. PILA PROJECT Introduction: The La Amistad International Peace Park (total area 2192 square miles) combines the largest National Park in the Costa Rican system with the second largest in Panama. Taken together with a complex of other protected areas and 8 indigenous reserves which surround it, PILA comprises the largest block of forested land in Mesoamerica, and is perhaps, in terms of species per unit area, the most biodiverse region on earth.

Fig 2. View from the boundary of the Rio Tscui watershed looking down into the upper Rio Bris watershed. Cleared land is in the Talamanca Bribri Indigenous Reserve; most of the forested land is in PILA (Costa Rica and Panama). 7

PILA runs for 106 miles along the Talamanca Range, which forms the Continental Divide, connecting the highest points in Costa Rica and Panama (Mts. Chirripo and Baru) at heights of over 12,000 ft., but nearly 90% of the total park area is on the Atlantic slope, drained by the Estrella, Sixaola and Changuinola Rivers. The Estrella and Sixaola watersheds have been home to the ANAI Stream Biomonitoring Program since its inception, and our first venture outside of that area was to initiate a continuing collaboration with the Naso and Ngobe etnias who inhabit the upper Changuinola watershed. Because our work is focused on the interactions of human communities with the aquatic environment, monitoring has been concentrated almost entirely at the lower elevations in Talamanca (between sea level and 600 ft.); above this point, gradient rises abruptly, limiting both aquatic biodiversity and (at least until recently) human settlement. However it is clear that the relatively high biotic integrity of many Talamancan streams is due in considerable part to the lack of disturbance in PILA (nearly all of which is above 600 ft.) Currently PILA and its biodiversity are experiencing a number of threats: • • • • • •

Invasion and settlement of lands within the park is on the rise, particularly in the upper Changuinola and Yorkin watersheds. Rapid growth of the indigenous population is creating a new agricultural frontier and rapidly compromising the function of several indigenous reserves as buffer zones for the park. Mining exploration is ongoing in the upper Uren watershed, though so far as we know no permits have been granted. Illegal hunting and fishing are a serious problem in many areas of the park, and in adjacent “protected areas” such as the Hitoy-Cerere Biological Reserve. Periodic forest fires are a problem in some high altitude areas, and could become a greater concern with changing climate. Perhaps most serious from an aquatic biologist’s point of view are active hydro dam proposals (see following section and last year’s report). At present, this threat is imminent only in the Changuinola/Teribe watershed in Panama, but plans have long existed on paper for multiple other sites, principally in Costa Rica. These and other problems are rendered less tractable by the virtual absence of park personnel dedicated to protecting La Amistad, especially on the Costa Rican side.

Reflecting all these threats, in 2006 we were asked by The Nature Conservancy’s Parks in Peril program (PIP) to initiate a study evaluating biotic integrity and habitat quality in PILA, which we did as part of our 2007 biomonitoring plan. (Unfortunately PIP was discontinued after 2007, so there is no immediate possibility of following up this work.) Site selection and logistics – Costa Rica: We agreed to monitor at least 10 pairs of sites, with one member of each pair located at or near the downstream boundary of PILA and the other somewhere downstream on the same river or creek. We ultimately sampled 5 pairs of sites in Costa Rica and 5 in Panama, plus 4 additional sites in or near PILA in Costa Rica and 3 such other sites in Panama. To this we added a pair of sites in 8

the Rio Shiroles watershed, completely outside PILA in Costa Rica, which we felt illustrated a point related to buffer zone management. Results of monitoring the 29 sites mentioned above are summarized in Table 1 and form the core of a separate report, in Spanish, available from ANAI. Here we will describe factors in site selection, training for the task, and highlights of the monitoring results: PILA is drained by 8 major rivers – the mainstem of the Estrella; the Telire, Coen, Lari, Uren and Yorkin, which together form the Sixaola below PILA; and the Changuinola with its principal tributary the Teribe. Numerous smaller streams cross the park boundary before joining the main rivers. It would thus appear to be easy to choose a representative sample of paired sites on large and small streams which exit the park. However, the logistic difficulties are enormous. At no point is the PILA boundary less than a day’s hard walk from the nearest point accessible by motor vehicle; much of the border is 2-3 days from a road. (An interesting exception is a small portion of PILA in Costa Rica known as “the island”- see discussion below.) Not only was time a limiting factor, but it was economically unfeasible to think of hiring guides and horses to pack in fish shockers, batteries, battery chargers, nets, food and personal gear if it would involve 2 days in and 2 days out to spend one day sampling a river. For this reason, although we would have liked to cover all of the major watersheds draining PILA, we had to rule out sampling in the Telire, Coen and Lari watersheds in or near PILA. Ultimately in Costa Rica we concentrated on the most easily accessible portion of PILA, traveling by boat to Yorkin and then making a 5 day pack trip along the PILA boundary, exiting at Katsi. This enabled us to visit pairs of sites on the Rio Katsi (Uren watershed), and two Rio Yorkin tributaries, the Rios Bris and Tscui, plus a pair on Quebrada Plas, tributary to the Tscui, with one additional site on the Rio Ambris, tributary to the Bris. We were able to visit a fifth pair of “PILA” sites in Costa Rica by including sites on the Rio Cerere, which drains the Hitoy-Cerere Biological Reserve. While technically part of the PILA buffer zone, Hitoy-Cerere, which is accessible by 4-wheel drive vehicle, includes the entire 35 square mile watershed of the upper Rio Cerere and receives a level of protection at least equivalent to that of a National Park. To these sites we added 2 sites in the Uren watershed in the vicinity of the village of Tsoki (See discussion below), and a small tributary (Quebrada Barrera) in Hitoy-Cerere. Site Selection and Logistics – Panama: In Panama we were once again unable to obtain a scientific collecting permit (See following section on the Changuinola-Teribe dams.) but were able to rely on our Naso (Teribe watershed) and Ngobe (upper Changuinola watershed) parataxonomists. Paired sites were selected in consultation with the parataxonomists. While monitoring in Panama was done without the use of the heaviest and most bulky equipment (electrofishers and seine nets), the great majority of the sites were located 1-3 days from the nearest settlement by boat or foot, and the results from these sites represent a tremendous commitment by the parataxonomists plus, in some cases, local volunteers. Eventually the Naso team monitored 2 paired sites on tributaries, plus one on the mainstem of the Rio Teribe which, unlike the Rio Changuinola, is often clear enough to permit effective underwater fish counting. The Ngobe team studied 2 paired sites, plus 2 unpaired sites chosen by them. 9

The Rio San San drains a small (139 square mile) watershed bracketed between the mouths of the Rios Sixaola and Changuinola; it has no extension within PILA, although its lower reaches traverse the San San/Pondsak wetlands, a RAMSAR site, protected by the Panamanian natural resources agency, ANAM. However, one proposed hydroelectric scheme would pass water from the Rio Teribe at a point in or just below PILA, into the upper San San. Accordingly we decided to supplement the sample sites directly related to PILA with visual monitoring of the upper Rio San San and its principal tributary the Rio Druy. This work was carried out by the directors of the ANAI Biomonitoring Team with the assistance of one volunteer from the village of San San. Parataxonomist training: Beginning in 2004 with the PRODOMA-sponsored biomonitoring workshop “Participatory Biomonitoring, Agroforestry Diversification and Environmental Education in Watersheds of the La Amistad-Cahuita-Rio Canas Site” for Naso and Ngobe leaders from Bocas del Toro, we have been developing a team of indigenous parataxonomists in the Changuinola/Teribe watershed. This year, faced with the inavailability of a scientific collecting permit and the obligation to carry out biomonitoring of a suite of PILA-related sites in Panama, we decided to upgrade the preparedness of the existing team. To the original team of Marcio Bonilla and Hugo Sanchez (Naso, Teribe watershed) and Aquilino Bonilla and Federico Quiroz (Ngobe, Changuinola watershed) we added a new Ngobe member, Bartolome Bonilla, and our first Costa Rican trainee, Edward Stuart, of the Bribri etnia, who participated on all PILA-related sites in Costa Rica. The “Second International Biomonitoring Training Course” began with a review of all previous training including site planning, sampling methods involving nets, identification of fish, capture and identification of benthic macroinvertebrates and habitat assessment. To this we added instruction in calculating biotic indices and especially use of the IBIVI visual biotic integrity index (described in a following section). Following 2 weeks of classroom and lab work combined with practice sessions in the rivers of Talamanca, the ANAI team and the parataxonomists together selected sampling sites in the Changuinola/Teribe watershed. Once provided with masks, snorkels, underwater notebooks, macroinvertebrate collecting gear and SVAP forms, the parataxonomists independently planned sites, recruited local volunteers and carried out all sampling and data recording chores for the 12 Changuinola/Teribe watershed sites. Results – Costa Rica: Less than 10 years ago, nearly all the land along the Yorkin-Katsi transect was forested. As of 2007 most of it is developed, comprising a patchy mix of pasture, agricultural land and more or less intervened forest, with a few large blocks of forest left. In many (but by no means all) cases vegetated riparian buffers have been left along streams in agricultural areas, but sedimentation from agricultural uses, livestock access and probably in some streams overfishing are growing problems. In all cases we noted that the park boundary was strictly respected; it was usually possible to locate the boundary simply by observing where a solid block of forest began. (However, we are told that there is substantial settlement and clearing within PILA further upstream along the Rio Tscui, in Panama.) All streams within PILA along this transect were awarded a Bioclass Rating of Excellent, and all downstream sites rated Good (See Table 1 for numerical results.). On the the Rios Bris and


Tscui in PILA, the score for the BMWP macroinvertebrate index approached the theoretical maximum. The Good ratings below PILA reflect both recent anthropogenic impacts and the positive effect of a largely forested, unroaded landscape upstream. One worrisome observation in the upper Rio Tscui (a PILA site we had monitored previously) was the scarcity in 2007 of large adult bobo (Joturus pichardi), the preferred food fish of the zone, suggesting that overfishing has begun to occur. At the smaller PILA sites we noted the near-absence of mojarras (family Cichlidae) for what appear to be natural reasons (watershed area, altitude and gradient) suggesting that even at relatively low elevations we are nearing the practical limit for effective use of fish-based biotic indices. At these sites we made adjustments to the IBITAL, reducing the weight of metrics which depend on cichlid numbers. More importantly we gave more weight to the macroinvertebrate and physical habitat data in determining the final Bioclass Rating. The Rio Cerere in the Hitoy-Cerere Biological Reserve also received an Excellent rating, while its tributary Quebrada Barrera rated Good. The slightly lower rating for Q. Barrera probably reflects the fact that much of one border of the stream was in pasture when the area was purchased, and is still in the process of healing and/or it may be a consequence of prevailing low water levels, which were particularly apparent in this very small stream. The Rio Cerere below the Reserve (Bioclass Rating Fair) did not follow the pattern set by the Yorkin/Katsi sites. This may be simply a consequence of greater remove from PILA. Whereas for all the other paired sites (with the exception of the relatively well forested Rio Bris) the PILA and below-PILA sites were separated by 0.5 –3 miles, the site on the Rio Cerere at the town of Cerere is a full 7 miles below the boundary of the Reserve. Dangers to biotic integrity within PILA were illustrated by one of a pair of sites in a portion of PILA known as “the island”. “The island” is not literally an island but a 249 square mile patch extending for 5.7 mi. along the Rio Uren, extending to the west bank of the Rio Lari and containing the watersheds of several small tributaries, the most accessible of which is Quebrada Niabri. While “the island” is contiguous with the main body of PILA in Panama, it is separated from the main body in Costa Rica by approximately 3 mi. along the Rio Uren, sandwiched between the Bribri villages of Tsoki and Alto Uren. It is also the only portion of PILA which is accessible by motor vehicle. The Rio Uren in this reach is extremely beautiful, presenting the appearance of a very healthy river. It received the highest BMWP score we have ever given, but our attempt to apply the IBIVI only scored Fair. This may reflect overfishing, but could also be due to the extreme depth of the pools and the force of the larger rapids, which rendered visual detection and identification of fish very difficult at some points. We tentatively gave more weight to the macroinvertebrate and habitat assessment scores and rated this site Excellent. (It should be noted that it is located directly downstream of a site being explored for copper mining potential, which could represent a grave threat.)


There was no ambivalence about Q. Niabri, tributary to the R. Uren near Tsoki, rated Fair. While on paper Q. Niabri and its watershed are entirely within PILA, the local people consider the area to be part of the Talamanca Bribri Indigenous Reserve, and use it fully. The banks of the lower Q. Niabri were largely in pasture and modest amounts of trash at the site suggest frequent human visitation. “The island” can be said to represent a miniature version of the “paper park” concept and here PILA status offers little or no protection to water quality or biodiversity. An ideal “experimental design” would have incorporated a pair of sites composed of a pristine site in PILA with a severely stressed site downstream. In reality, there are no such sites close to PILA, so in our report to PIP we included a pair of sites from a watershed completely outside PILA. The Rio Shiroles flows into the Rio Telire at the village of Suretka, and arises as two branches north and west of the town of Shiroles. The larger of these branches, known locally as Rio Chumuri, flows through a landscape of forest and cacao farms near the village of Sibuju. While it is far from pristine, in terms of physical characteristics like gradient, channel shape, riffle/pool ratio, substrate particle size, etc. it is very reminiscent of a lower elevation PILA stream. Over the years we have monitored R. Chumuri several times and it has always been rated as a high Fair or a low Good. In Shiroles, where the two branches flow together as the Rio Shiroles, the stream is similar to the Rio Chumuri site with respect to most natural physical characteristics. However, it is subject to multiple and extreme anthropogenic impacts, including total deforestation of the banks, sedimentation of pools, livestock access, organic pollution from domestic sources and trash dumping. It has been channelized in the past, and was rechannelized, ostensibly for purposes of flood control, but also as a source of material for road building since our last visit in 2004. Although the rocky substrate gives rise to a certain level of diversity of benthic macroinvertebrates resulting in a low Good BMWP score (But see comments in the section on macroinvertebate monitoring.) the fish community is dominated by tolerant forms and detritivores, with scarcity of native cichlids, near-absence of forest-related species and a high incidence of disease and parasitization. Almost all other sites where we have recorded IBITAL scores comparable to that for the Rio Shiroles at Shiroles (27 – Very Poor) are totally channelized, heavily sedimented ditches draining chemical-intensive monoculture banana plantations. This site serves to suggest the worst that could happen to a Talamancan mountain stream downstream of PILA. The percentage of diadromous fishes (species which must travel between the sea and fresh water to complete their life cycle) was lower than in previous studies in Talamanca, perhaps due to uniformly low water levels throughout the study period. The lowest percentage of diadromous fish was 7.2% in the smallest stream sampled (Q. Barrera) where water levels were obviously low enough to impede movement of fish of all sizes through riffles and shallow runs. Under such circumstances it is highly likely that diadromous and other migratory fishes would remain further downstream in the Rio Cerere. At other sites in Costa Rica, the proportion of diadromous forms in the samples ran from 14.5 to 84.1%, with a median value of 39%. The highest value was recorded from the highest elevation site (approx. 850 ft. on the Rio Katsi in PILA), once again confirming the dominance of diadromous forms in high altitude/high gradient streams in the region.


Results – Panama: Casual examination of the data from the Changuinola/Teribe watershed (Table 1) shows that none of the sites was rated less than Good. However, while sites in the Teribe watershed showed the same pattern as for PILA/below PILA pairs in Costa Rica (Excellent in PILA and Good downstream where some human impacts occur), the 2 pairs of sites on streams tributary to the Changuinola mainstem (Quebrada Guabo and Rio Culubre) showed no clear upstream/downstream differences, with all Changuinola tributary sites rating Good. This difference may be a function of human population density. Perhaps 2,000 people inhabit the lower Teribe watershed, considered to be Naso territory, whereas Ngobe territory in the Changuinola watershed is much more densely populated. Precise figures are not available, but the largest single community in the watershed above the confluence of the Rio Teribe (Valle de Risco) has an estimated population of 5,000. While neither watershed may be said to be severely deforested, there is more visible evidence of clearing as one travels along the Rio Changuinola as compared to the Rio Teribe. Although no Excellent sites were recorded for the Changuinola watershed, it is worth repeating an observation from 2005. A trek through the upper Changuinola watershed at that time, including visits to the tributaries monitored in 2007, revealed a density of bobo “tracks” (the marks this fish leaves on the rocks while scraping algae to eat) which we have never seen equalled in Talamanca. (We have no comparable observations from the Teribe watershed.) The 2 sites monitored in the San San watershed, although separated by a straight line distance of only 1.2 mi., gave very different results. Results from the upper Rio San San above the Ngobe village of San San (rated Fair) reveal substantial sedimentation and organic pollution (Both bluegreen and brown algae were seen.), and high levels of disease and parasitization of fish. The Rio Druy (rated Good), with a predominantly Naso community along its banks, was healthier in every respect, with a greater diversity of both fish and benthic macroinvertebrates and no evidence of organic pollution. The R. Druy passes almost entirely through working farms, but it must be rated as one of the most esthetically attractive small rivers we have seen in a populated area in Bocas del Toro/Talamanca. The percentage of diadromous fish was not calculated for the 2 San San watershed sites. For the 12 sites in the Changuinola/Teribe watershed it was uniformly higher than in Talamanca, ranging from 38.1% (Q. Bocachica in PILA) to 100.0% (Q. Luglon in PILA, above a barrier falls), with a median value of 66%. Conclusions: 1. Results from both countries clearly show the importance of PILA in protecting aquatic biodiversity. Preservation of this aspect of biodiversity through protection of water and riverine habitat quality needs to be forcefully stated as part of all arguments for the protection of PILA. (Most discussion of PILA has traditionally centered around forests and terrestrial wildlife.) 13

2. The data, especially those from Panama, underline our previous conclusions about the role of Mesoamerican rivers as biological corridors, with the overriding importance of diadromous forms at all elevations. 3. The work reported here shows that protected areas at high altitudes, such as PILA, benefit water quality and conservation of biodiversity at downstream river sites. 4. The data from the Rio Chumuri/Shiroles, however, suggest that while high gradient, rocky streams may be more resilient in some respects than their low gradient counterparts, multiple stresses can turn mountain streams into swift, rocky counterparts of banana canals. 5. The training and employment of locally based parataxonomists has great potential for expanding the scope of biomonitoring and multiplying our effectiveness. The work of the Panamanian parataxonomists was in every sense professional, credible and well documented.

4. THE DAM ISSUE Our 2006 report reviewed the history of proposals for 4 highly controversial hydroelectric dams in the Changuinola/Teribe watershed, and outlined the role of the ANAI Stream Biomonitoring Program vis a vis these dams. This report will update that history and outline what can be done at this time in Bocas del Toro and elsewhere.

Fig 3. Road construction for the Chan-75 (Cauchero) Dam on the Changuinola River, in Ngobe Territory, Bocas del Toro Province, Panama.

With few exceptions, the Panamanian and international biological and conservation community has been shamefully silent on the issue of the Changuinola dams, which have the potential to decimate aquatic biodiversity in well over 500 miles of perennial streams within one of the most important protected areas in the hemisphere. Apart from organized resistance in the affected indigenous communities, the only visible opposition in Panama has been on the part of Asociacion para Conservacion y Desarrollo (ACD), a small and underfunded NGO which has collaborated with ANAI since shortly after the 2004 PRODOMA workshops.


The other major actor has been the US-based Center for Biological Diversity which, together with ACD, presented a petition, signed by 37 organizations, to the World Heritage Site Commission of UNESCO, requesting that La Amistad/Panama be stripped of its World Heritage Site status if plans for the dams go forward. This petition was accompanied by a Technical Paper from the ANAI team (copies available from ANAI), outlining the probable biological consequences of dam construction. During this report period, articles on the dam issue by members of the ANAI team appeared in George Wright Forum and Fisheries, reinforcing a previous article in International Rivers Review and our presentation at the Ecological Society of America Conference in Merida, Mexico in 2006 (See our 2006 report for details.) Complete citations for the new publications, including the Technical Paper, appear below in the Publications section. UNESCO responded by sending a note expressing their dismay at not being consulted in the dam planning process, and requesting a formal invitation from the Panamanian and Costa Rican officials responsible for La Amistad. This visit by officials from UNESCO and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) is now scheduled for the first quarter of 2008, and will include consultation with the ANAI team on biodiversity and diadromy issues. It is probable that subsequently La Amistad will be placed on the official list of World Heritage Sites in Danger, and perhaps ultimately disqualified as a World Heritage Site, if the dams are built. The Costa Rican authorities are understandably unhappy about this series of events, claiming (correctly enough) that they are getting bad publicity about something which is not their responsibility. On the Panamanian side, the response of the government and its US, Colombian, Swedish and Panamanian contractors has been to create “facts on the ground” by accelerating the pace of work. In August, 2007 work was begun toward the construction of CHAN-75, the lowermost of the 3 projected dams on the Changuinola mainstem. Several Ngobe families were forcibly removed from the site, an event which was publicized in the press in Panama, the US and elsewhere. Protests against these events are largely ineffectual in the absence of affordable legal assistance. (It should be noted that UNESCO is powerless to consider social issues; whatever opinion they ultimately issue and whatever action they ultimately take will be in the environmental sphere.) There was speculation that the Bonyic Dam, the only one presently planned for the Teribe watershed/Naso territory, would be kept on hold until the controversies around CHAN-75 were settled, but in October, 2007 construction began on an access road to the Bonyic damsite. Last minute negotiations by Naso leaders with Panamanian officials failed. Acts of peaceful civil disobedience were undertaken, and several Naso were arrested for blocking the road in what they perceive as Naso territory. (Note that over the years all efforts by the Naso to achieve “comarca” designation for their traditional lands – a status enjoyed by most indigenous groups in Panama – have failed.) While none of the active opponents of the dams are giving up on the fight, a reasonable prediction would be that CHAN-75, at least, will be completed (a process which will, however, take several years). At that moment, discussion of the other two dams on the Changuinola mainstem will cease to be relevant from a diadromy/biodiversity point of view, since the Rio Changuinola above


CHAN-75 will be closed to migrating fish and shrimps. (Of course issues around loss of forest land and displacement of Ngobe communities will remain.) For a variety of reasons, there is more hope of eventually cancelling plans for Bonyic, the smallest of the 4 planned dams and the least environmentally damaging in terms of the watershed area and stream mileage which would be affected. (On the other hand, in terms of esthetics, and the threat to indigenous culture, it is arguably the worst of the dams.) This will depend in part on quality legal assistance, which is presently in scarce supply. Meanwhile there are rumors of still more dams in the La Amistad area. One concept which has been discussed in the past is for a dam on the Rio Teribe mainstem. Such a dam together with CHAN-75 would eliminate virtually all remaining habitat for diadromous fish and shrimps on the Atlantic slope of the La Amistad area in Panama, while dealing what could be a mortal blow to Naso culture. One version of such a dam would have it passing water out of the Teribe watershed and into the neighboring San San watershed, thus impacting the San San Lagoon and other waters of the coastal San San/Pondsak wetlands, a protected RAMSAR site. Of equal concern are the possibilities for hydro dams on the Costa Rican side, in Talamanca. We know of no plans for dams in the Estrella watershed, but the binational Sixaola/Telire watershed has long been the focus of discussion in terms of its hydropower potential. As mentioned in our 2006 report, a Costa Rica “Country Environmental Profile”, published in 1982 by the Tropical Science Center and USAID mentioned the existence of preliminary plans for 9 hydro dams with a combined energy potential of 1,385 mw, in the Sixaola/Telire watershed, principally in Costa Rica. (The total potential of the 4 dams proposed in Bocas del Toro is projected to be 448 mw.) A 1994 publication by UNED (a Costa Rican university) states that “The Instituto Costarricense de Energia (ICE) has studied the construction of a major hydroelectric complex in the Talamanca basin. This would include a 15,000 hectare (37,000 acre) reservoir in the Talamanca Valley and 16 small reservoirs in the upper watersheds of the main tributaries.” More detailed and current information has so far proved difficult to come by, but we do not suppose that this is an imminent threat. The Costa Rican government recently lost the battle to construct a hydro dam on the Pacuare River, on the Atlantic slope north of Talamanca (in large part due to the Pacuare’s status and economic importance as the country’s premier white water recreational river). The same government presently faces the task of convincing the public as to the merits of the huge Boruca hydro dam projected for the Rio General watershed on the Pacific side of the Talamanca Range. With or without the Pacuare and Boruca dams, the Bribri and Cabecar etnias who inhabit the area which would be directly affected by the Talamanca dams are better organized than their Naso and Ngobe counterparts in Panama, and have undisputed legal claim to their territory. In addition, Costa Rica has a strong conservation tradition which is lacking in Panama. Nevertheless, it behooves ANAI to take hydro dam plans into account in our field work in Talamanca beginning in 2008. In addition to the predictable effects on the value of the biological corridor formed by the Rio Sixaola and its tributaries, with foreseeable massive loss of aquatic biodiversity in the Costa Rican portion of La Amistad, realization of anything approaching the 16

scenario suggested by the 1994 report cited above would wipe out a major part of our work over 30 years in bringing sustainable development to the Talamanca Valley and promoting biodiversity conservation in the Costa Rican portion of PILA and its buffer zone. In terms of geographical area, up to half of our historic accomplishment could be destroyed. The events described here, beginning with the call to attention presented by Naso and Ngobe leaders at the 2004 PRODOMA workshops, have strongly affected the future plans of the ANAI Stream Biomonitoring Program, not just in Bocas del Toro and Talamanca, but in regard to our long term goal of sharing our experience. All Central American governments are under intense pressure to develop hydro power as “clean” energy for projected industrial growth. In 2005, Irene Burgues, in a report to the Conservation Strategy Fund noted that as of that date plans existed on paper for at least 381 large hydro dams in the 7 countries which share the Mesoamerican isthmus. Some of these projected dams, for example on the Rio Usumacinta in Mexico and Guatemala and the Rio Patuca in Honduras, would affect major protected areas which, like La Amistad, are recognized as World Heritage Sites. Virtually all would drastically alter riverine ecosystems upstream (and estuarine fisheries downstream) by closing off migratory routes to diadromous species. Beginning in early 2008, the Stream Biomonitoring team will be participating in sustainable development workshops organized by ANAI, in which stream biomonitoring will be integrated with the full range of conservation/development options available to rural tropical communities. We also have presently active and projected proposals to provide stream biomonitoring training for community groups from Belize to Panama. In all cases, the potential role of hydropower development and empowerment of communities to deal with it will form a major part of the curriculum.

5. PACUARE LAGOONS STUDY (MADRE DE DIOS WATERSHED) Due to fundraising shortfalls and institutional difficulties outside of ANAI and beyond our control, what was envisioned as a 5 year-project in the coastal watersheds north of Limon (labelled as the “Madre de Dios Watershed” project in last year’s report, but more accurately described as the “Pacuare Lagoons Watershed” project), was terminated in 2007 after only 2 years. The work accomplished loosely corresponds to ANAI’s portion of “Phase 1” of the proposed project, and can be divided into 4 parts: • • • •

Completion of monitoring at 2 sites on the Rio Madre de Dios, adding BMWP and SVAP analysis to the fish sampling results reported last year. We also carried out a partial fish sample on the lower Rio Madre de Dios. Identification of a smaller tributary system (Rio Hondo) as a more ideal site for evaluating stresses in the watersheds above the coastal zone and its lagoons, and completion of fish and macroinvertebrate samples and habitat assessment at 4 sites in this watershed. A series of fish samples in coastal lagoons near the mouth of the Rio Pacuare, which receives the Madre de Dios and Rio Hondo drainages. Training for groups of citizen volunteers and high school students from the communities of Bataan (upper watersheds) and Pacuare (lagoons).


Fig 4. Map of the lower Rio Pacuare watershed area, showing 2 monitoring sites on the Rio Madre de Dios, 4 monitoring sites in the Rio Hondo system, and 4 key sites in the Pacuare lagoon complex.

Before going on to describe the work accomplished, we must concede that progress made toward the long range goal of analyzing the cause of periodic fish kills in the coastal lagoons around Pacuare and suggesting remedies was, on the one hand, almost negligible in relation to the goal, but on the other hand mostly satisfactory in terms of Phase 1 objectives. Mention must also be made of two Phase 1 objectives which were not achieved. Despite requests on our part, we were not able to participate in any exchange of information, data analysis or planning activities with investigators carrying out a parallel program of chemical analysis of water, sediments and fish tissue. And, although the Siquirres office of MINAE played an essential and much appreciated role in acquiring and making available a boat and motor for the project, as well as 18

in providing necessary permits and facilitating acquisition of background information, planned training for MINAE personnel was not achieved, for the simple reason that invited personnel never turned up to participate. The map, Figure 4, demonstrates the geographic relation of the different monitoring sites on the Rio Madre de Dios, Rio Hondo and the lagoons. Since this work is peripheral to our work in Talamanca, tabular presentation of data will be limited. The reader interested in more detail is referred to our final report to MINAE and the Fundacion de Parques Nacionales, available from ANAI. A general description of results follows: Madre de Dios: The macroinvertebrate and habitat monitoring results mirrored our 2006 results with fish sampling, with the important addition that we were able to apply the BMWP and SVAP indices to macroinvertebrate samples and habitat assessment results, respectively, rather than merely making relevant observations as in the case of the fish samples. BMWP and SVAP indices were calculated for the same two sites where fish were sampled in 2006 - a largely unimpacted, forested site above the Limon-Guapiles highway and one 4.3 mi. downstream, after the river has passed through a settled agricultural area, but still upstream of the severely channelized and polluted reach passing through industrial agriculture properties. Both indices produced Good to Very Good results for the upper site and Fair scores for the lower site. This confirms our conclusion of strong anthropogenic impacts at the lower site, based on simple observation and the 2006 fish data. The effect of non-industrial agriculture and residential development on streams is something which must be taken into account in any continuing effort to evaluate the effects of agribusiness on coastal ecosystems; the altitudinal succession of protected forest, various uses by small private owners, agroindustry and finally coastal lagoons is one which is repeated in most of the watersheds of Atlantic Costa Rica north of Puerto Limon. Our original plan was to add a third site in the reach of the Rio Madre de Dios within the agroindustrial complex. However, we were unable to find any site along the 13 mi. of river between the upper end of the plantations and tidewater which was accessible and workable with backpack electrofishers. We did carry out a partial fish sample on the lower reaches of the Madre de Dios using boat-based methods (See section below on lagoon sampling.). The principal result of this work was to suggest that for purposes of biomonitoring this reach might better be considered as part of the lagoon complex than as a river. Rio Hondo: After much map study and many miles of travel on back roads with local guides we realized that while the Rio Madre de Dios was an excellent choice for comparing a relatively pristine reach of a northern coastal Limon Province stream with one impacted by human settlement and small farm agriculture, the smaller Rio Hondo (watershed area 16.9 sq. mi.) provided a virtual laboratory for analyzing the effects of different stresses related to chemically intensive monocrop agriculture. We selected 4 reaches for monitoring, one forested and the other three reflecting the effects of the major monocrops in the region (pineapple, banana and rice): •

Rio Hondo mainstem upstream of the Limon-Guapiles highway, designated as the “Forest� site. Here adjacent lands are largely forested (within the Pacuare Forest Reserve) and the only significant anthropogenic stress would appear to be from harvest of the fishery resource. 19

Mainstem 2.5 mi. downstream, at the lower end of a massive pineapple monoculture area (“Pineapple” site). While the pineapple plantations are chemical-intensive and drain directly to the river via channelized tributaries, there is an adequate forested riparian buffer zone along the river and it remains within its natural channel, with good riffle-pool structure. There is some sedimentation in excess of natural levels, but much stable rocky substrate is available, particularly in the rapids. The “Banana” site was located on the mainstem 4.5 mi. below the lower end of the pineapple zone, where Rio Hondo is known as Caño Azul, in an area of monocrop banana cultivation. In addition to chemical pollution associated with banana farming, this reach is channelized and fully sedimented. Depth is largely uniform, pools and riffles lacking and no hard substrate is accessible. To assess the effects of rice cultivation we selected a reach on a similar sized stream, tributary to the lower Rio Hondo, draining a large monoculture rice growing area. This stream, which may once have had another name, is now known as the Canal Finca Varsi, here referred to as the “Rice” site. It is severely channelized, somewhat incised, fully sedimented and lacking in riffle-pool structure, with a largely deforested riparian buffer zone.

Fig 5. Fish sampling at the “banana” station on the Rio Hondo/Caño Azul, just downstream of extensive agribusiness banana plantations. Here the river is completely channelized and of uniform depth, with little physical habitat for aquatic animals. While, as in the case of Rio Madre de Dios, we were not able to apply a fish-based biotic index, the fish data are unequivocal in demonstrating a deterioration in 11 different characteristics of the fish assemblage over the 7 mi. between the Forest and Banana sites, with the Rice site similar in 20

most respects to the Banana site. This data is available in tabular form in our final project report; some highlights follow: •

• •

• • • • •

Total number of native fish species, which normally increases as one travels downstream on a river, fell from 14 and 16 at the Forest and Pineapple sites respectively, to 8 at each of the other two sites. Among the native fishes, the family Cichlidae, characteristic of coastal rivers, was totally absent at the Banana site. Exotic species were lacking at the Forest site, minimally present at the Pineapple and Rice sites, but composed 2.9% of the sample at the banana site, where an unidentified armored catfish (family Loricariidae) of South American origin was the only large fish present. In degraded streams most species are represented principally by small, young individuals. While at the other sites size distribution of all species taken in numbers appeared normal, at the Banana site there were very few large individuals of any native species, even tolerant fish like Astyanax aeneus and Poecilia gillii which often thrive in polluted waters. Total abundance of fish was within normal expectations at the Forest site, slightly elevated at the Pineapple site and exaggeratedly high at the other two sites. The difference was accounted for by large numbers of “weedy” species. The proportion of pollution-tolerant fish was higher at the Pineapple site than at the Forest site, and clearly excessive at the lower sites. At the Banana site an astounding 95.6% of the fish were of tolerant species. The single extremely pollution-intolerant fish native to the Rio Hondo watershed (Priapichthys annectens) was common at the Forest site, but totally absent at all 3 sites which receive inputs of agrochemicals. Fish species characteristic of pool habitat were normally abundant at the Forest site (19.5% of the sample), reduced in abundance at the Pineapple site (9.1%) and rare at the other 2 sites (2.7 and 5.9% at the Banana and Rice sites respectively). Native catfishes of the genus Rhamdia were present in normal numbers (5.7 and 5.1%) at the upper two sites, but rare (1.2%) at the Rice site and almost absent (0.1%) at the Banana site.

Macroinvertebrate sampling yielded similar results, as shown in Table 2 (See Appendices). The somewhat poorer results from the Pineapple site as compared to the Forest site probably reflect principally chemical contamination, given that quality and diversity of substrate available for benthic life is still quite high at the Pineapple site. The numerical abundance but low diversity of macroinvertebrates at the Banana site represents high fertility due to organic pollution, whereas at the Rice site extreme sedimentation has virtually eliminated benthic habitat for all but a few forms. Otherwise the changes across the 4 sites are regular and predictable. The habitat assessment (SVAP) results are even more clear, progressing from a Good rating (SVAP score 7.8 out of a possible 10) at the Forest site, through Fair (6.4) at the Pineapple site to poor (3.5) at the Banana site and finally Very Poor (2.6) at the Rice site. The data (available in our final report on the Pacuare project) are spectacular in that for every one of 15 habitat variables evaluated they show a regular decline along the gradient from the Forest to the Rice site. There is a natural tendency to want to attribute the fish kills and problems observed in the Pacuare lagoons to some particular cause. Our data should not be used in this way; i.e. there is no 21

justification for drawing the conclusion that rice cultivation is more damaging than banana farming which is in turn worse than pineapple monoculture. Our results may reflect synergies among different agrochemicals and other pollutants. What they show unequivocally is that when severe physical habitat alteration (channelization, deforestation of the riparian zone, sedimentation) is added to chemical pollution, severe degradation occurs, resulting in increased susceptibility to stresses further downstream. Lagoon monitoring: Coastal lagoons are notoriously difficult to monitor, for reasons of physical difficulty (illdefined shorelines, abundant aquatic vegetation, depth and width), but even moreso because they are naturally unstable environments. The lagoons of north Atlantic Costa Rica are especially so because the Tortuguero Canal, which directly or indirectly connects all of them, facilitates unpredictable mixing of salt and fresh water, according to rainfall and tide conditions. In contrast to purely fresh water habitats, environmental monitoring of coastal lagoons and estuaries virtually mandates periodic sampling over at least a 12 month period. Our original plan for Phase 1 was to develop a sampling methodology which would permit monthly monitoring, train local volunteers and MINAE personnel to carry it out, and begin monthly samples with the goal of accumulating data over at least a 12 month period with participation by the ANAI team. We successfully developed a methodology which we believed would accomplish these goals and made some progress toward training local volunteers (though not MINAE personnel), but were able to accumulate what amounted to no more than 1-2 months’ worth of data as contemplated in the original plan. The plan involved selecting a series of lagoon sites reflecting the “worst” sites (identified by frequency and severity of fish kills plus obvious contamination) and the “best” ones (no fish kills, isolated from major contamination sources), and sampling the fish assemblages to see if, in addition to the acute effects of major pollution episodes (fish kills) we could identify chronic effects (alteration of community structure). Data accumulation was set back by the unanticipated difficulty of developing adequate sampling methods. In the fall of 2006, project directors Bill McLarney and Maribel Mafla spent time on Fontana Reservoir in North Carolina with Tennessee Valley Authority biologist Dave Matthews learning techniques of applying experimental gill nets in fish sampling, and Dave followed up by travelling to Pacuare to assist us in application. However, after multiple trials, even with his expert help, we were not able to devise a method which would enable us to sample adequate numbers and diversity of fish without unacceptable levels of mortality. The first consequence of this realization was that we were forced to eliminate mid-channel habitat from consideration. On discussion, we rationalized that results based solely on shoreline sampling might be satisfactory because: •

The total abundance and diversity of fish in lagoons is greatest along and near the shoreline.


• •

Shoreline habitats directly reflect riparian conditions whereas the biota of deep midchannel sectors is dependent principally on water quality alone. If planned to include both deep and shallow shorelines, sampling along shore not only captures fish associated with structure in the water column or along shore, but also samples benthic habitat, thus adding another suite of fish to the sample (and one which may be especially strongly affected by accumulation of chemical toxins in the substrate).

We subsequently developed a methodology based on two techniques, one of which (cast netting) was fairly conventional. We used a 6 ft. diameter, ¼ inch mesh monofilament cast net. Sampling methodology consisted of a fixed number of throws (typically 100, with throws where the net failed to open fully or became snagged not counted) as the boat operator moved slowly along a reach of shoreline. All fish were identified, counted and released. The principal limitation on castnetting as a sampling method is a question of skill. When Julio Knight, a lifelong native of Pacuare and our principal guide in the lagoon work, used the cast net, the results were quantitatively far superior to those achieved by others; we subsequently concluded that data recorded when others used the net were not quantitatively acceptable. Our other method was one we had never contemplated in lagoons – electrofishing. We had assumed that, while salinity in the lagoons would vary, it would always exceed maximum levels for the use of electrofishers, and that depth would also be a severe limiting factor. However, on one trip we brought a backpack electrofisher in order to indulge our curiosity about a small tributary creek of local origin, which was clearly a fresh water stream. In desperation over our gill net results, one day we made a trial run in the Pacuare lagoon using the electrofisher, mounted on one side of the boat with a passive cathode, with an experienced anode operator and 2 dipnetters. Using low voltages and frequencies, the method was surprisingly successful. Subsequently we determined that with 2 electrofishers properly spaced along the side of the boat we could, with the aid of experienced dipnetters and a skilled boatman to position us, trap fish between two electrical fields and achieve very high catch rates. As refined, the technique consisted in thoroughly covering a determined length of shoreline, and quantifying the results in terms of the time of actual discharge of electricity, as indicated on the electrofisher. Our first efforts with both methods were combined with an effort to get to know the lagoon system better, and formulate a sampling regime. Based on observation and many conversations with local residents, we concluded that no site near Pacuare was totally immune to toxic events, but that one area was clearly the worst. We were repeatedly told, and confirmed through observation, that in the last decade nobody has bothered to fish in the Laguna Santa Marta, which receives runoff, via the Rio Madre de Dios and many other streams, from all of the major agroindustrial and other types of land use in the Pacuare watershed, as well as being the outlet of the Canal Principal, which carries domestic and other waste from the town of Bataan (population 4,500). We observed the Laguna Santa Marta, although located in completely forested surroundings, to be of an opaque green color. The substrate was largely composed of viscous mud, with a foul odor. And the amounts of trash and garbage floating or trapped in the vegetation served as further evidence of urban impact. We ultimately decided to compare shore zone fishes in the Laguna Santa Marta against “other lagoons” accessible along a 12 23

mi. stretch of the Tortuguero Canal, from the Laguna Urpiano in the south to the Laguna Caldera in the North. At both types of sites we applied both methods, keeping results separately. We retained the cast net method because, although electrofishing was normally more productive, castnetting was more effective when we encountered concentrations of schooling fishes, chiefly anchovies (Anchoa anchoa) and common sardinas (Astyanax aeneus). The results (Table 3, in Appendices), covering a total of 43 species, showed striking differences between the fish assemblages of the Laguna Santa Marta and Other Lagoons: •

The single clearest result is probably the much higher percentage of pollution-tolerant fish in the Laguna Santa Marta (63.9 and 76.0%, respectively by electrofishing and castnetting, vs. 32.9 and 53.2% for Other Lagoons).

Catch per unit effort is also higher for both methods in the Laguna Santa Marta (3.14 fish/minute or 2.54 fish per cast net throw vs. 1.36 fish/minute and 0.93 fish/throw in Other Lagoons), reflecting overabundance of tolerant, “weedy” species in the Laguna Santa Marta. (Note this is the same condition observed at the lower, more contaminated sites in Rio Hondo.)

The abundance of native Cichlidae (9 species total) in electrofishing samples was considerably greater in Other Lagoons (12.8% of total fish) than in the Laguna Santa Marta (5.3% of total fish). This is of particular local importance since the cichlids (“mojarras”) are the “bread and butter” fishes of the local subsistence fishery. (Native cichlids form the most prominent of several species groups which are much more efficiently captured by electrofishing than with cast nets.)

While we lack biophysical data on Anchoa anchoa, it would appear to be an intolerant species, based on its propensity to die when stored in buckets while awaiting counting. If this is so, then its far greater abundance in “other lagoons” (26.7% of total catch vs. 5.8% in the Laguna Santa Marta with cast nets, or 5.7 vs. 0.6% using the electrofishers) is a powerful indicator.

The “cucha” (an unidentified species of armored catfish of the family Loricariidae) is by far the most abundant exotic fish in the Pacuare region, and is clearly concentrated in the Laguna Santa Marta. Cuchas (which as a benthic fish are difficult to capture with cast nets) accounted for 7.6% of the total catch in the Laguna Santa Marta, but were almost totally absent from Other Lagoons.

In general, the other lagoons present a more diverse assemblage of fishes than that of the Laguna Santa Marta, where total abundance appears to be heavily skewed toward Astyanax aeneus (64.6% of the cast net sample in the Laguna Santa Marta vs. 39.5% in Other Lagoons), a tolerant, omnivorous, schooling species which readily adapts to almost any fresh or brackish water environment and typically abounds where other fishes are scarce.


While we have reported our lagoon sampling results in some detail, the real value of this work is not in the data, but rather in the testing of a promising monitoring methodology, along with preliminary testing of our hypotheses re acute vs. chronic effects and the particular importance of shoreline habitats in lagoons . We believe that, given the institutional will, this work could be expanded into a truly valuable program. Acquisition of a costly electrofishing boat, in place of our awkward improvised technology, coordination with a parallel program of chemical analysis of water, substrates and fish tissue, complemented by a real effort to respond rapidly to fish kills when they occur would increase the effectiveness of the fish monitoring work. But even without these enhancements, the existing fish sampling methodology, applied and refined over a 12 month period, could make a contribution to understanding the causes of fish kills and other environmental problems in the coastal lagoons and ultimately to solving the underlying problems. Training: One of the objectives of the original 5 year project was to leave in place a cadre of trained local volunteers to carry out monitoring in both the coastal lagoons and their upland tributaries in the years to come. Nine individual volunteers and a larger number of students from the Colegio Tecnico and Liceo Gilante in Bataan participated in the upland stream sampling, and were provided with equipment to continue with macroinvertebrate and habitat assessment work. However, we do not believe that we succeeded in developing leadership adequate to carry the project forward. In Pacuare, Julio Knight and his sons Julio and Michael are clearly capable of continuing the monitoring, but other community support was not forthcoming, so that the necessary time commitment is simply not feasible. Nor is it clear that in the absence of the ANAI team the boat and motor supplied by MINAE would be made available. In both places, incentive to continue the work is dampened not only by the failure to secure funding for ongoing work, but by the failure of MINAE to become involved in the project at other than an administrative level. Even supposing volunteers overcame the obvious obstacles and produced monitoring data, there is presently not really anyone to whom to report results. The best we can say at this time with regard to the training aspect is that we stimulated awareness and raised the level of sophistication about the problems afflicting the coastal lagoons and their watersheds among a small percentage of the population, including some of the brightest students at the local high schools. Perhaps in the future this awareness will bear tangible fruit.

Talamanca lagoons: Whatever else it may have been, the Pacuare lagoon project was a tremendous educational experience for the ANAI Biomonitoring Team staff. It served as a stimulus for our first attempts in 2007 to sample fish in three of the coastal lagoons of Talamanca (Tuba Creek, Hone Creek and Gandoca). One product of this preliminary work was the addition of 2 new species (Poecilia mexicana and Parachromis managuensis ) to the known fresh water fish fauna of Talamanca, both known from Pacuare and nearby areas but hitherto not reported from Costa Rica south of Limon.


More important it prepares us to continue the development of lagoon monitoring methods in Talamanca and elsewhere. Coastal lagoons are a prominent feature of the Talamanca coast, as they are in most of Atlantic Mesoamerica and along many other tropical and subtropical coasts. They are important fishery, biodiversity, esthetic and recreational resources strategically placed at the boundary between marine and freshwater environments, and often located in protected areas, but are greatly underrepresented in monitoring programs. Since the ANAI Biomonitoring Team will increasingly be involved in training for groups from other parts of Mesoamerica and the tropics in general, it behooves us to enhance our capacity to understand these important environments for the sake of our trainees as well as our neighbors in Talamanca. In this respect, the experience in Pacuare has served us very well.

6. ADVANCES IN BENTHIC MACROINVERTEBRATE MONITORING Beginning in December, 2006 and through 2007, intern Ana Maria Arias, from the University of Tolima, Colombia, was in charge of our macroinvertebrate program. In addition to overseeing macroinvertebrate collection in the field and laboratory analysis of collections (while also participating fully in all other aspects of program activity) she was responsible for bringing order to what had become a chaotic macroinvertebrate specimen collection and data base. Whoever succeeds her will find his or her task much easier thanks to Ana Maria’s work.

Fig 6. Panamanian Naso and Ngobe parataxonomist trainees carrying out a macroinvertebrate collection on the Rio Telire, Suretka, Talamanca Bribri Indigenous Reserve, Costa Rica.

In September Maribel Mafla participated in a “Symposium on Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Investigations and Biomonitoring in Costa Rica” with Dr. Monika Springer of the University of Costa Rica and other local experts who had contributed to the adoption of the BMWP index as the official standard for classifying stream health based on benthic macroinvertebrate monitoring in Costa Rica. There was unanimous agreement that, while BMWP appears to be adequate as an analytical tool for the rivers of the Meseta Central (Costa Rica’s high interior plateau, where most of the population resides) it consistently overrates sites in other areas of the country.


Using our 2007 data for an example: •

Of 22 sites in Talamanca where both IBI and BMWP were determined, BMWP resulted in a higher bioclass rating in 17 instances; in only 1 instance did BMWP score lower than IBI. On average BMWP scores were 1.23 classes higher than IBI, with one case where BMWP bioclass was Excellent, while IBI was Poor and another where BMWP was Good while IBI was Very Poor.

Results are similar when SVAP and BMWP scores are compared; at 17 of 22 sites BMWP resulted in a higher class rating than SVAP, while at 5 sites class rating was the same for the two indices; average difference was 0.91 bioclass. There was one Poor-Excellent pair.

In Panama, where the monitoring was carried out by a different team, BMWP gave a higher Bioclass Rating than IBI at 10 out of 11 sites (mean difference 1.45 classes), with one site registering the same class for both indices. Similarly in 9 of 12 instances BMWP rated higher than SVAP and in no case was it lower, with an average difference of 0.92 bioclass.

The ANAI Biomonitoring Team was the first working group to make this sort of observation, and we have begun to review our data with an eye to contributing to the ongoing nationwide discussion and to developing alternative methods or metrics for our own use in Talamanca and elsewhere.

7. VISUAL FISH-BASED BIOMONITORING Referring to visual fish-based biomonitoring in our 2006 report we stated that “The methodology needs to be tested in a much greater variety of situations, and refined for greater accuracy”. This describes a principal focus of our field work in 2007 – refining the IBIVI (Visual Index of Biotic Integrity). Intern Diego Rivera was responsible for critiquing and tweaking methods, but all of the ANAI staff and volunteers participated. An important refinement of our technique was the use of ropes anchored in the stream to permit observations at measured intervals, and also to reduce the amount of both effort and disturbance involved in observing and note taking. All 12 sites evaluated by the Panamanian Ngobe and Naso parataxonomists were monitored using IBIVI, as were 12 sites in Talamanca monitored by the ANAI team. Of the 12 Talamanca sites, 7, previously monitored using conventional sampling methods, with electrofishers and nets, are of particular interest. Comparing 2007 IBIVI results to the most recent (2003 to 2006) IBITAL score for these sites, 3 of the 7 sites scored from 2 to 8 points higher using IBIVI, while 2 scored from 2 to 5 points lower, with one site scoring exactly the same. Mean difference was +0.29 points with IBIVI. In terms of Bioclass Rating, 5 of the 7 sites received the same rating, while one each received a higher or lower rating. While we should not base our evaluation of IBIVI vs. IBITAL on the non-supportable supposition that individual sites “should” rate the same from year to year, we note that visual impressions of the 7 sites suggested no difference except for some deterioration at one site (Rio


Bitey) due to sediment accumulation and clear improvement at two sites (Rios Cauchero and Niney) as a consequence of elimination of cattle access. Rio Bitey dropped one Bioclass from Good to Fair (IBI of 47 to 42), while Rio Cauchero improved from 46 to 54, but was assigned to the Good bioclass each time. (No significant change was observed at the Rio Niney site.) Unfortunately we do not have BMWP and SVAP scores from these sites to compare between years.

Fig 7. Volunteer Francisco Leal and intern Ana Maria Arias consulting the laminated fish guide in the course of applying the IBIVI visual fish monitoring index on the Rio Bitey, Estrella Valley, Costa Rica. Table 4 (See Appendices) shows scoring criteria for IBIVI as applied in 2007. Those familiar with the IBITAL metrics will note that it necessarily simplifies and combines attributes while approximating some quantitative aspects of conventional IBI’s. Some examples: •

The IBITAL contains metrics based on the numbers of detritivores and pollution-tolerant fishes in the sample, expressed as percentages of the total sample. In both cases, the single most important contributor to the metric is the universally distributed and easily observed Poecilia gillii. IBIVI uses Poecilia gillii as a proxy for detritivores and pollution-tolerant fishes, replacing precise counts with relative criteria for determining if the species is abundant, common, rare or absent at the site.

Values for a metric based on the total number of native fish species at a site have had to be adjusted downward for IBIVI. While if an IBI monitoring protocol is strictly followed, with skillful use of electrofishers and nets, the assumption is that all species actually present at a site (making allowance for occasionally missing single transients) will be captured. However some rare and/or cryptic species are difficult to locate visually. (As


an extreme example, Eleotris is a fairly common fish at some sites, but none of us has as yet seen an Eleotris underwater.) •

We use proportions of different “sardina” species in samples as a metric indicator, with a cut-off point of 50% for the tolerant, omnivorous Astyanax aeneus; less than 50% receives the high score, while greater than 50% Astyanax aeneus (but less than 100%) results in a medium score. While relative abundance of different sardina species can be estimated visually, we cannot accurately differentiate between say 40 and 60% of A. aeneus, forcing us to give the benefit of the doubt to some sites where A. aeneus may actually constitute the majority of the sardinas present.

All of these changes reduce both the power and the mathematical precision of the IBI, as does the fact that some quantitative metrics (i.e. proportion of forest-dependent species in the total sample) do not appear to be translatable to visual monitoring. It would then appear that, when available, IBITAL using electrofishers and nets would be the method of choice. However, we are forming the opinion that in some situations, the error factor imposed by difficult sampling conditions cancels out the imprecision and reduced power of IBIVI. This is particularly true in clear rivers near the upper size limit for safe and effective use of backpack electrofishers. A clear example is a site on the Rio Cerere just above the village of Cerere, monitored for the first time in 2007. An enormous long, deep pool which would have been totally unapproachable with backpack electrofishing gear (yet too small for an electrofishing boat, had one been available) was easily assessed using visual methods. Even on streams where pools are wadable but very wide or long, the adeptness of certain species in escaping the electrical field may render visual assessment preferable. Sites where visual monitoring may not be appropriate include typically turbid sites or sites with muddy bottoms where any movement in the stream induces turbidity; severely polluted streams where immersion may not be advisable and very large rivers where an electrofishing boat may be the only option. We have yet to attempt IBIVI in very small streams in Talamanca but, based on experience in the United States, fish in small streams are surprisingly tolerant of the observer willing to crawl through shallow water. We intend to carry out small stream trials in 2008. IBIVI is still a work in progress, as two changes made during the 2007 season indicate: •

Based on early experience we eliminated certain cryptic and nocturnal species from the metric for native species diversity based on the assumption that they would so difficult to observe that they would be counted as absent on many sites where they are in fact present. However, practice has improved our capability to detect some species; for example we now routinely look for Rhamdia catfishes, which were initially excluded from consideration in IBIVI.

Disease and parasite counts are a traditional component of IBI’s which we eliminated from the original IBIVI. At the next to the last site monitored in 2007 (the somewhat contaminated Rio San San), we noted that certain diseases and parasites were observable and would have played a significant role if we had carried out a conventional IBI at the


site. At the next site (the nearby but much cleaner Rio Druy) we noted a far smaller proportion of diseased and parasitized fish. This observation was discussed in a staff meeting, and we decided to use incidence of diseases and parasites as the basis for a provisional IBI metric to be tested during the 2008 season. While IBIVI is at a very early stage in its evolution, its successful application by the ANAI team in Talamanca and, under very different conditions, by the parataxonomists in Bocas del Toro suggest that it merits a permanent place in the stream monitoring toolkit. It is very much more accessible to rural communities than conventional methods, by virtue of the low equipment costs and because, since no capture of fish is required, it avoids questions of permitting. At least in the indigenous reserves of Talamanca and Bocas del Toro, where most people are adept in the water, it is easily learned and regarded as not only useful but enjoyable by its practicioners. From 2008 on we will be employing IBIVI increasingly, seeking to improve it, and including it as standard study material in our biomonitoring workshops. 8. STREAM RESTORATION (QUEBRADA PIJAO) Last year we reported on “developing baseline channel data for Quebrada Pijao and a relatively pristine reference site, Quebrada Ambrosio, as a major step toward restoration of a badly degraded reach of Q. Pijao. We further stated that “Our challenge is to raise funds adequate to a state-of-the-art restoration on Q. Pijao, using Natural Channel Design principles, and use the experience to plan further restoration projects.” The challenge remains – with the tremendous advantage that the landowners at the Q. Pijao site (known as Finca Pijao) are fully committed to the concept of landscape restoration, whether we progress rapidly or slowly, with or without Natural Channel Design. Progress toward active restoration has been much slower than we would have liked, but we have accomplished the following: •

Baseline monitoring, a sine qua non of stream restoration, continues, including monitoring of reference sites.

While no instream work is occurring, the landowners continue to plant trees in the riparian zone and otherwise improve conditions on the entire 20 acre property (all in pasture until recently) draining to Q. Pijao.

Extensive photodocumentation of changes in Q. Pijao over time is ongoing.

In 2007, we repeated biomonitoring of the restoration sector of Q. Pijao, first carried out in 2006. While our overall Bioclass Rating for the site remains Poor, there was some improvement in all 3 components of the monitoring protocol: •

IBI improved from 33.0 to 36.3, based principally on the reduced number of chuparenas (Awaous banana) in the sample. While this fits with a perception of less sand in the substrate, the numbers are not strong enough to state that this constitutes a definitive improvement, and the overall quality of the fish assemblage remains Poor.



SVAP jumped from 4.3 to 5.8. While both scores are within the Poor category, this reflects significant and visible improvement, due to revegetation of the riparian zone and an increase in the shaded portion of the channel due to trees planted 2-3 years ago. On the day of survey, we also noted an increase in pool habitat, although at least some of this gain, in what is still far from an optimally stable channel, was lost in subsequent storm events. Part of the improvement was offset by increased incision of the channel. (See discussion below.)


The most clearly significant improvement was in the macroinvertebrate results, where the BMWP score rose from 73 (Good) to 136 (Excellent). While, as noted in the section on macroinvertebrate monitoring, caution is required in relating BMWP scores to Bioclass Ratings and the results of other indices, this clearly reflects a relative improvement, presumably due to reduced sedimentation and the absence of nutrient enrichment by cattle.

We compared the Q. Pijao results to those from 2 similar sized reference sites, Quebrada Ambrosio and Quebrada Pedro, both located in the middle Hone Creek watershed. (Q. Ambrosio, which joins Q. Pijao on a neighboring property not far below the reference site, was given its name, in honor of a former landowner, during the survey process. We subsequently learned that most local residents consider it to be the extreme headwaters of Quebrada Carbon. We have maintained the name Q. Ambrosio for convenience in this report). Q. Ambrosio is of about the same size as Q. Pijao, but of somewhat higher gradient, with more bedrock in the substrate. At the time of monitoring (February, 2007) its lower reaches (below a partial barrier falls) were in forest. Quebrada Pedro, another similar-sized stream, is tributary to Hone Creek on the opposite side of the valley from Q. Pijao. It is a lower gradient stream, with poorly developed rapids, but larger and deeper pools than either Q. Pijao or Q. Ambrosio. Its lower reaches are partially in pasture, but the monitoring reach lies in a fully forested canyon. The fish sampling results from these 3 sites illustrate the difficulty of selecting reference sites for restoration. Both Q. Pedro and Q. Ambrosio were clearly in better condition than Q. Pijao, but fish species diversity appeared to be more strongly related to gradient (11, 9 and 6 species in Quebradas Pedro, Pijao and Ambrosio, respectively) than to water or habitat quality. While a fully functional IBI for streams of this size (marginal for IBITAL as it presently exists) would sort for gradient-related diversity, there is still the problem of setting criteria for successful restoration. For example, the most abundant fish in Q. Pedro was the forest-dependent Alfaro cultratus; it was not found in either of the other streams and, based on our gradient-related observations throughout Talamanca, we would not expect it in either one, even under conditions of optimal forest cover. While the IBI for Q. Ambrosio (38.9) was only marginally better than that for Q. Pijao, the health of the fish assemblage may be characterized as Fair, and we believe that an IBI adapted to small, medium-to-high gradient streams would demonstrate a greater difference. We noted that the maximum and average size of the only 3 species with potential to reach large sizes (mountain mullet, Agonostomus monticola; bobo, Joturus pichardi and guavina, Gobiomorus dormitor) was higher in Q. Ambrosio.


IBI for Q. Pedro was clearly Good (51.7), with a high percentage of forestdependent and pool fish, and a strong population of the pollution-intolerant Priapichthys annectens. A population of this species exists in a tiny tributary to Q. Pijao on the restoration property, and one of our tentative indicators of successful restoration would be for it to reestablish in the Q. Pijao mainstem. The SVAP results (8.7 and 9.3, both Good, for Quebradas Ambrosio and Pedro, respectively) are unequivocal, and represent a goal to be reached on Q. Pijao. Interestingly, the BMWP scores for the two control streams (106 and 111) are lower than for Q. Pijao, but all are in the Excellent range.

Fig 8. Stream crossing on Quebrada Pijao at Finca Pijao, February, 2006 and December, 2007, demonstrating the rapid rate of incision (downcutting).

We believe that, with a certain amount of “triangulation� we can use the biological data from the two reference sites to describe the desired future condition for Q. Pijao. We have extensive physical survey data (from August, 2006) only for Q. Ambrosio, but it is clearly the

better choice for comparison with Q. Pijao. We are fortunate to have surveyed Q. Ambrosio when we did because it can no longer serve as a reference site. In October, 2007 the landowner at the reference site chose to build an access road for house construction in the most expedient manner, deforesting the riparian area along one bank, channelizing most of the creek below the falls, and creating conditions for ongoing sediment deposition for years to come.


While, as described above, Q. Pijao has improved with respect to some physical habitat factors, it has also deteriorated in some ways, most notably through incision. This is illustrated by Fig. 8, showing the point where one would normally cross Q. Pijao to reach the house at Finca Pijao on two different dates. In less than a year what was a ford where one could cross with a motor vehicle became a miniature canyon, and one is now obliged to cross the creek on foot. A major contributing factor to the ongoing incision is undoubtedly continual downcutting in the channels of Q. Carbon and Hone Creek, both of which are badly abused over much of their length. While the logic of attempting to practice and demonstrate stream restoration in the most degraded watershed in Talamanca is unassailable, the present condition of Hone Creek and Q. Carbon may represent a factor seriously limiting possible success in tributaries like Q. Pijao. The incision problem may be mitigated to some degree by increased channel stability in the restoration reach and above. In addition to obvious improvements in the former pasture area, we note increased bank stability upstream where a small tributary parallels a public road along the boundary of Finca Pijao. This underlines one of the potential ancillary benefits of eventual restoration; protection of infrastructure used by the entire community. It would be logical to document these changes in the physical structure of Q. Pijao, and in 2006 we received the donation of equipment which would permit Fig 9. Ongoing incision on Quebrada us to do so. However, we still have not received the Pijao. Less than a year prior to the analysis of the extensive survey data accumulated at photo, no part of the exposed log was that time. Until such time as this service is delivered, it visible. does not seem to us a good investment of time (several days by 5-6 individuals) to replicate the 2006 survey. We will continue with biomonitoring and photodocumentation, which are much more cost-efficient. Perhaps it is time to reframe the “challenge� mentioned at the beginning of this section. Talamanca remains both an area which needs stream restoration and an ideal laboratory for restoration in the tropics. For the moment, we have clearly lost the momentum generated in the course of the 2006 survey of Q. Pijao, but Q. Pijao remains our best opportunity. We are committed to exploring less costly and technology-intensive methods. Meanwhile, to the extent that cattle removal and tree planting can qualify as restoration, we shall continue to document the effects of riparian restoration on Q. Pijao.



Fig 10. Cover page of the laminated “Photo Guide to Fishes of the Rio Madre de Dios Watershed and its Lagoon System”.

Neither of the major publications referred to in our 2006 report have seen the light of day, but both have evolved. A draft of a monograph on the freshwater fishes of Talamanca is essentially complete, with detailed discussions (including scientific names, common names in several languages, distribution in Talamanca, habitat, tolerance level, trophic level, reproductive and migratory behavior and other comments as appropriate) for all 48 species taken in our biomonitoring samples, including 3 species added to the list during 2007. Notes on several other species which occasionally enter fresh water

are included. One factor which held back the monograph was mapping, and it underscores our need for more staff. Several individuals have contributed to the development of distribution maps for Talamancan fresh water fish, starting with a base map created by volunteer Kirsten Harma in 20032004, and with follow-up by several other volunteers. “Too many cooks” contributed to a situation in which we were unable to retrieve all the information until an October, 2007 visit from former volunteer Sophie Garrard. Starting with the information in Bill Bussing’s pioneering work “Peces de Las Aguas Continentales de Costa Rica”, we have now mapped almost every known location of 48 species. We are currently awaiting maps from Chris Lorion, a U. of Idaho/CATIE doctoral student who spent much of 2004-2006 studying fishes in small streams throughout inland Talamanca, in order to complete the work. We have held back on publishing the “short, popular version” of the Monograph requested by The Nature Conservancy, feeling that it will be more useful with a complete set of photos and a taxonomic key. During 2007 we took a systematic approach to collecting photos of Talamancan fishes, and are nearing what we consider an adequately complete collection. (Several examples of Maribel Mafla’s photos for the Guide grace this page.)


Alfaro cultratus

Awaous banana

Atherinella chagresi

Archocentrus myrnae

Astyanax aeneus

Agonostomus monticola

Astatheros bussingi

Gymnotus cylindricus

Evortodus lyricus

Fig 11. Sample portraits of Talamancan fishes for inclusion in the monograph/guide to fresh water fishes of the region.

A draft of a key to Talamancan fresh water fishes was created by volunteers Diego Rivera and Ana Maria Arias, who also played a major editorial role in bringing the manuscript closer to completion. They also made contributions toward revising our existing biomonitoring Guide, which includes macroinvertebrate and habitat assessment sections, but nothing on fish. (With the development of low cost fish monitoring methods, we now feel that it is appropriate to include a fish section.) Work on our “commitment to produce a formal critique of the BMWP Index” for macroinvertebrates has been suspended following the national symposium on macroinvertebrates and biomonitoring, in which we discovered that we are far from the only group expressing concerns. Ultimately, the critique will likely turn out to be a combined effort by groups from various parts of Costa Rica. Our major publications this year were 3 related to the controversial Changuinola/Teribe dams in Panama, listed below. Two were listed as “in press” in our previous report, while the Technical Paper for UNESCO is new:


McLarney, W.O. 2006. History Repeats? Hydro Dams and the Riverine Ecosystems of Mesoamerica: The Case of La Amistad Biosphere Reserve, Panama and its Implications. The George Wright Forum 23(4): 6-12 McLarney, W.O. and M. Mafla H. 2007. Dams and Fish/Shrimp Migrations in Mesoamerica – Worldwide Implications. Fisheries 32 (7): 341-342 McLarney, W.O. and M. Mafla H. 2007. Probable Effects on Aquatic Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function of Four Proposed Hydroelectric Dams in the Changuinola/Teribe Watershed, Bocas del Toro, Panama, with Emphasis on Effects within the La Amistad World Heritage Site. Scientific Paper presented to the World Heritage Committee providing additional information for the Petition to the World Heritage Committee Requesting Inclusion of Talamanca Range – La Amistad Reserves/La Amistad National Park on the List of World Heritage in Danger. 22 pp. Of at least equal importance with the various formal publications are a series of documents generated specifically for use in schools and communities. During 2007, the following documents were produced specifically for use in Talamanca: •

Individualized fish, macroinvertebrate and physical habitat notebooks for use in communities. Each notebook emphasized the streams, creatures and situations particular to that community.

Biomonitoring field data sheets designed to assist lay observers in recording information.

Permanent data sheets for each community where results from fish, macroinvertebrate and habitat assessment can be recorded and filed for use – designed as a permanent, living document.

Five different types of stickers advertising the program.

Biomonitoring T-shirts in different styles for children and adults. These were used as prizes in competitions in the schools.

Blank notebooks for children with the Biomonitoring Program logo.

Printing of designs and illustrations done by students, representing what they have learned in biomonitoring workshops.

Outside of Talamanca, we also provided t-shirts for students participating in biomonitoring course activity in Bataan (Pacuare watershed), plasticized photographic guides to the fishes of the Madre de Dios watershed and Pacuare lagoon system (see Fig. 10 above), and printed data summaries and analysis showing the results obtained in the Pacuare watersheds. Under this heading also belongs an evolving series of powperpoint presentations. The following have been prepared so far (all except the last in Spanish and English versions).


• • • • •

Overview of biomonitoring and the ANAI Stream Biomonitoring Program, with some historic results. Fish-based monitoring (IBITAL and IBIVI) methods. Macroinvertebrate-based biomonitoring, with an introduction to benthic macroinvertebrates and methods. Visual assessment of physical stream habitat, using the SVAP index, adapted for Talamanca Training program for use in schools and communities, briefly outlining all 3 types of monitoring.

10. COMMUNITY-BASED BIODIVERSITY AND BIOMONITORING EDUCATION: Introduction: A point we have often stressed is that environmental education is part and parcel of our approach to biomonitoring. Every day in the field with volunteers is treated as an educational opportunity. We have long-standing relationships with the Agricultural Ecology program at the regional high school in the Estrella Valley and the elementary school in Bocuare, and have made numerous informal classroom visits to other schools, in many cases involving the students in field work. But 2007 was the year in which we were finally able to formalize our educational activities, for elementary and high school students and adults, and begin to put an educational plan into practice, creating what is still a pilot project, but which will be expanded beginning in 2008. A first opportunity was created when, as a consequence of our work with adult volunteers in the Pacuare watershed, we received a request for a presentation from Rafael Camacho, president of the parents’ association of the Colegio Profesional de Bataan. This evolved into two presentations, one in the Bataan Community Center and the other at the Colegio Profesional, attended by more than 40 students and faculty from the Colegio Profesional, plus students from another high school (Liceo Gilante), the public health sector in Bataan and interested individuals from the community at large. This in turn led to hands-on instruction in the field (macroinvertebrate monitoring and habitat assessment) for 15 students. The experience in Bataan was invaluable for the ANAI team and we hope contributed something of lasting value to the community of Bataan. However, given that there is no present prospect of continuing our involvement in the watersheds north of Limon, continuity is lacking. Of greater importance is our subsequent effort to develop a permanent program of environmental education and community outreach in Talamanca and the Estrella Valley, based on participation in the stream biomonitoring experience.


Program in schools: A first step in formalizing our relationship with the schools of Talamanca and the Estrella Valley was to secure formal permission from the regional office of the Ministry of Education to work with students from the third through sixth grades, and their teachers, in selected schools. Initially we focused our pilot program on those schools which are most accessible, including some where we have established relationships. Visits were made in 2007 to the schools of Bocuare, Cahuita, Patino, Carbon Uno and Manzanillo.

Fig 12. Student biomonitoring group at rural school in Bocuare, Valle de la Estrella, Costa Rica. In back row ANAI interns Ana Maria Arias and Diego Rivera and school principal Luis Matarrita (in middle). Banner made by the students. The program in its initial stage consisted of an interactive presentation with the students and their teacher about the importance of protecting rivers and streams, their problems and ways of evaluating and addressing them. Following an initial presentation and discussion we organized competitions among the students, using the “spelling bee� concept, but also challenging the students to create original art works based on aquatic themes. Prizes awarded ranged from candy through Tshirts and stickers to Biomonitoring Program notebooks and magnifying glasses for use with macroinvertebrates. At the end of the program, all the teachers, without exception, invited the Biomonitoring Team back to give a more extended presentation, with a practical field component, in 2008. We are presently in the process of developing this program and compiling a larger list of schools to involve.


Community outreach: We also offered educational programs at the level of adults (teenage on up) in two communities (Bocuare and Carbon Dos) where the Biomonitoring Team has a strong relationship with the community. In its initial form (now under modification), this was a three day course, with one day each devoted to fish, macroinvertebrates and habitat assessment. In each case the plan of the day was the same: a classroom presentation in the morning, practical training at a nearby stream site in the afternoon (IBIVI, BMWP and SVAP indices), followed by discussion focusing on application of metrics, summary of the results in terms of biotic health, and suggestions for further study.

Fig 13. Interns Diego Rivera and Ana Maria Arias and student identifying benthic macroinvertebrates – community outreach program in the community of Carbon Dos (Hone Creek watershed, Talamanca, Costa Rica). One of our success indicators is the level of participation and enthusiasm of the students, which was consistently high. A concrete example is the spectacle of teenage boys competing for places in line to use our microscope to identify macroinvertebrates. Another is the high degree of retention of the Latin scientific terminology and points such as, for example, the difference between Ephemeroptera and Plecoptera. One of our long term plans is to develop interchanges between the communities, with individuals from communities where the outreach program is already established assisting us in other communities. Precedent was established when Francisco Leal (age 17), one of the outstanding students from Bocuare, assisted the team with the program in Carbon Dos. As in the case of the 39

program in the schools, we are presently in the phase of critiquing and improving our procedures and compiling a longer list of communities to involve in the outreach program in 2008. In the years to come we hope this will be a focus of our work in the region on a par with our involvement in practical biomonitoring.

11. 2007 PROGRAM STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS Plans to hire a third biologist to complement the project principals (Dr. William O. McLarney and Maribel Mafla H.) were temporarily dropped when the individual we had planned to hire became unavailable. Rather than engage in a rapid search which might lead to a stopgap appointment, we decided to invest some of the funds destined for the new hire on short-term employees. The principal fruit of this decision was to provide a stipend which permited intern Ana Maria Arias to extend her stay. Ana Maria, an honors student at the U. of Tolima in Colombia, was originally recruited to work on macroinvertebrates as part of a thesis study at CATIE (a Costa Ricanbased international university-level institute), and made an enormous contribution to systematizing our work in that area over the previous 6 years, as well as handling identification of 2007 samples. This included visits to the U. of Costa Rica, where some of our collections are housed, to work with entomologist Dr. Monika Springer. However, she also found time to participate in the full range of Biomonitoring Program activities, making a particularly important contribution to editing our forthcoming monograph on the fresh water fishes of Talamanca. Ana Maria returned to Colombia in November to finish her degree, but continues to work on editing for ANAI. In March, she was joined by Diego Rivera, also from the U. of Tolima, who stayed until November. Diego specialized in visual fish monitoring, and is the principal author of a key to the freshwater fishes of Talamanca which we plan to publish. Like Ana Maria, he is presently finishing up his degree in Colombia, and continues to collaborate in our publishing effort. Michel Duteau, from Quebec, was a last-minute replacement for an expected volunteer, and leaped into the breach immediately, specializing in GIS mapping. His arrival kept us at full strength during the principal stream monitoring season of February-May, something which was particularly important given the frequent necessity to pack gear into remote places in carrying out the PILA project. Both Michel and Diego participated in all phases of field and office work. Shorter term volunteers are vital to the success of the Program. In 2007 we employed 48 mostly local volunteers in our monitoring efforts in Talamanca, in addition to 13 volunteers in the Pacuare lagoon project and 14 individuals who offered their services to the parataxonomists in the arduous Panamanian portion of the PILA survey. Among short term volunteers, special credit must be given to Dave Matthews of the Tennessee Valley Authority, who spent almost 3 weeks with us, applying his experience and expertise especially in the Pacuare project, but also on the PILA-related work and routine monitoring. We were also able to provide modest daily wages for Costa Rican trainee Edward Stuart (who participated in all PILA-related monitoring in Costa Rica) and the 5 Panamanian


parataxonomists (Marcio Bonilla, Hugo Sanchez, Aquilino Bonilla, Federico Quiroz and Bartolome Bonilla) who were the heart of the PILA work in Panama. In November, 17 year old Francisco Leal, who had demonstrated outstanding aptitude in one of our school biomonitoring courses in his home village of Bocuares, joined as a part-time volunteer, with a particular interest in benthic macroinvertebrates. And in December, Sharon Gulick, who brings impressive experience in environmental education and outreach in Asia and Polynesia, joined the team. Her help has been indispensable during what is our busiest office season, including in the preparation of this report.

12. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Funding for the work reported here was provided by: Dorothy-Ann Foundation (core program support) J.M. Kaplan Fund (core program support) Center for Ecosystem Survival, through the Ecological Parking Meter at the National Aquarium in Baltimore (core program support) The Nature Conservancy, Parks in Peril Program (PILA project) Fundacion de Parques Nacionales, through MINAE (Pacuare lagoons project) Thanks for in-kind donations are due to Dave Matthews (waterproof carrying bags) and Betsy Baste (masks and snorkels). The initial impetus for the PILA and Pacuare projects came from outside ANAI: • •

The suggestion for a biomonitoring study of streams draining PILA in both countries came from Felipe Carazo of The Nature Conservancy, who shepherded the project from its inception through the final report. Our involvement in the Pacuare lagoons originated as an initiative by Edwin Cyrus, director of MINAE’s La Amistad Conservation Area. The work was facilitated by Belinda Dick of MINAE and Emily Yozell of Justicia para la Naturaleza, and administered by Donald Campbell of the Siquirres office of MINAE, who also facilitated our use of a boat and motor.

In new areas such as the Madre de Dios/Rio Hondo/Pacuare lagoons watershed and in remote areas far from roads, such as we traversed in the PILA project, logistic assistance is indispensable. It is impossible to thank all the people and groups who helped us, but some of the more outstanding contributors are listed below. • •

In Pacuare, Julio Knight and his family provided hospitality at their business (Restaurant Pacuare) and every possible type of assistance – as boatman, cast net instructor, community liason, instructor in the local ecology and all-purpose volunteer. Willis Rankin, a native of Tortuguero, was helpful in the early phases of planning the Pacuare lagoon work.


During the work in the Madre de Dios and Rio Hondo watersheds, the ANAI crew and volunteers stayed at the facility of SITRAP (Sindicato de Trabajadores de Plantaciones Agricolas) in Siquirres. Thanks go to SITRAP, and especially to Carlos Arguedas who arranged for lodging, recruited volunteers and served as a local guide. We never would have found our monitoring sites or accomplished our goals in the rivers between Yorkin and Katsi without many helping hands. Special thanks go to ESTRIBAWPA in Yorkin and the guides they arranged (Luis Segura, Julio Carrera, Keivin Morales and Hermogenes Morales). Baudilio Stuart of Amubri provided food, lodging and critical landowner access facilitation in the Bris watershed, and Fidel Stuart of Katsi was essential in providing logistic assistance in the Katsi watershed. Although he could not be with us in the field, Chris Lorion of the U. of Idaho/CATIE made invaluable suggestions in the planning and map study phases of the PILA work.

Individuals who went out of their way to facilitate our monitoring work in other watersheds include: • Mario Cerdas of MINAE, director of the Field Station at the Hitoy-Cerere Biological Reserve, for logistic support and facilitating access. • Luis Gamarra, of San San Druy, Panama, without whom our first venture into the upper San San watershed would not have been possible. • Gloria Mayorga and Juanita Sanchez of Kekoldi, for recruiting the usual excellent crew of student volunteers on Hotel Creek. • Didiher Chacon and the staff of the Gandoca Sea Turtle Conservation Project for facilitating our use of their facilities in Gandoca, as is their custom. Ernesto Quintero of COCABO performed an indispensable liason role without which it might have been impossible to coordinate activities with our Panamanian parataxonomists (who deserve extra credit for many hours of volunteer work in Costa Rica in addition to their regular duties on the other side of the Rio Sixaola.) Our involvement in the Changuinola/Teribe dam issues would not have been possible without the support and counsel of Osvaldo Jordan of ACD and Felix Sanchez, president of the Alianza Naso, together with many individual members of the indigenous communities in Bocas del Toro. Our technical paper for UNESCO was expedited by Peter Galvin and Jason Gray of the Center for Biological Diversity. Thanks again to Chris Lorion for facilitating the use of his fish collection data toward the preparation of our monograph on the fresh water fishes of Talamanca. Others who have facilitated this project are Bill Bussing, ichthyologist of the University of Costa Rica, who has been generous with his time to all of us, and former volunteer Sophie Garrard who donated two days of her time to rescuing computer files without which the mapping phase of the monograph might be starting from scratch. The work of Ana Maria Arias was made possible by a joint internship program between the U. of Tolima and CATIE, administered by Dr. Alba Estella Rivero, which permits outstanding students to work independently with smaller institutions such as ANAI. Ana Maria’s work was greatly facilitated by entomologist Monika Springer of the U. of Costa Rica.


Many people have collaborated in many ways to help get our new educational project in Talamancan schools and communities off the ground, but special thanks are due to Luis Matarrita, director of the school in Bocuare, and Luis Zuniga of ASODECC in Carbon Dos, who have both had faith in the biomonitoring program since it was little more than an idea. Costa Rican national scientific collection permits were facilitated by Earl Junier of MINAE. The parallel function in the Talamanca Bribri Indigenous Reserve was performed by Abelardo Torres of ADITIBRI. Once again we cannot close without thanking the administration and office staff of ANAI, without whom our work would be impossible. Within ANAI this year our most profound appreciation is extended to the memory of the late Jeronimo Matute (Don Matute) and Laureano Duarte (Don Nati). Matute was a cofounder, and both were members of the ANAI board from the very beginning. Both died during 2007, Matute at 85 and Don Nati at 102. During their lives, each in his very different way provided continual moral support and encouragement for all of ANAI’s work. They will not be replaced. We would like to dedicate this report to their memories.

Fig 14. IN MEMORY: Jeronimo Matute (Don Matute) 1922-2007 and Laureano Duarte (Don Nati), 1905-2007. Photography Katy Beswetherick 2001. 43



Table 1. Talamanca Biomonitoring Results – 2007. IBITAL Watershed

Costa Rica (Talamanca) Tuba Creek between Leilan and Oro David R. Niney above R. Cauchero R. Cauchero above mouth R. Bitey in Bocuares Estrella R. Bocuares in Bocuares R. Cerere @ Cerere R. Cerere in HitoyCerere Reserve Q. Barrera in HitoyCerere Reserve R. Patino in Patino Q. Carbon in Carbon Uno Hone Creek Q. Pedro in forest Q. Ambrosio above falls Q. Pijao @ Finca Pijao Hotel Creek below Coastal creeks







Kekoldi Middle Creek in Sanarusia farm R. Sandbox below falls R. Bris above mouth R. Bris in PILA R. Ambris below PILA R. Tscui in Yorkin R. Tscui in PILA Q. Plas near mouth

46 F

157 E

7.2 F

Overall Bioclass



New site

48 G


54 G


42 F 48 G

Fair Good

Decline Stable



New site

103 G



New site

116 G

9.6 E



5.2 P



45 F 57 E

48 G

32 P 34 P 52 G

91 G 111G

5.6 P 8.7 G

Poor Good

Stable New Site

39 F 36 P

106 G 136 E

7.3 G 5.8 P

Good Poor

New Site Improve

45 F

100 G

6.7 F



50 G

58 P

8.2 G



40 F

104 G

7.5 G



55 E

144 E 165 E

8.6 G 9.3 E

Good Excellent

Stable New Site

55 G 52 G 48 G

152 E 128 E 165 E

8.8 G 8.0 G 8.8 G

Good Good Excellent

New Site Stable Stable

46 G

147 E

8.5 G



51 G

Probable causes

Cattle removed


Reforestation, healing Increased human Population upstream



Q. Plas in PILA 58 E 148 E 9.5 E R. Uren in PILA 42 F 173 E 8.7 G R. Katsi in Katsi 39 F 125 E 7.6 G R. Katsi in PILA 55 E 148 E 9.2 E Uren Q. Niabri in PILA 44 F 135 E 7.9 G R. Shiroles in 27 Shiroles VP 103 G 4.0 P Telire R. Chumuri in Sibuju 46 G 8.6 G Panama (Bocas del Toro) R. San San above 42 F 100 G 6.8 F R. Druy R. Druy above San San San 45 G 8.5 G San Druy Q. Guabo in PILA 48 G 108 G 8.0 G Q. Bocachica below 37 F 126 E 7.2 F PILA Q. Bocachica in PILA 45 G 119 G 8.6 G R. Culubre @ Pena 45 G 8.6 G Blanca Changuinola R. Culubre 1 hour 42 F 112 G 8.4 G above Pena Blanca R. Culubre in PILA 42 F 149 E 8.7 G R. Teribe in Sieyic 54 G 110 G 7.7 G R. Teribe in PILA 48 G 122 E 9.5 E R. Bonyic above mouth 42 G 129 E 7.1 F R. Bonyic in PILA 48 G 140 E 9.4 E Teribe Q. Luglon above mouth 54 E 114 G 7.8 G Q. Luglon in PILA (2) 115 G 9.4 E (1) River too large to apply SVAP (2) High altitude site above natural barriers to movement of fish

Excellent Excellent Good Excellent Fair

New Site New Site Stable New Site New Site






New Site


New Site


New Site


New Site


New Site


New Site


New Site

Good Excellent

New Site New Site New Site

Good Excellent

New Site New Site

Good Excellent

New Site New Site



Table 2. Characteristics of the benthic macroinvertebrate assemblage at 4 sites on the Rio Hondo, Pacuare watershed, Limon, Costa Rica. Sites Rice (Canal Finca Varsi)





Total Abundance

Very high




Taxa diversity





Pollution-tolerant forms







Very Poor

Very Poor

Bioclass Rating

Table 3. Relative abundance of the principal species and groups of species of fish in the Laguna Santa Marta, compared with Other Lagoons in the Pacuare region, using two sampling methods. Family or species group

Common name

Astyanax aeneus Poecilia spp. Anchoa anchoa Centropomus spp. Native Cichlidae Atherinella spp. Gobiomorus dormitor Gerreidae Belonesox belizanus Gobiidae Loricariidae Oosthetus brachyurus Eleotris spp. Citharichthys spilopterus TOTAL % pollution-tolerant species

Common sardina Panzonas Anchovies Snooks 9 species Silversides Guavina Gerreids Pike killifish Gobies 4 species Cucha Pipefish Sleepers Flatfishes

Capture rate

Per minute Per throw

Electrofishing Laguna Other Santa Marta Lagoons 14.7 5.6 21.1 25.0 0.6 5.7 10.4 9.3 5.9 12.8 1.1 8.1 9.9 0.0 1.7 3.6 7.9 5.7 10.4 0.0 7.6 0.0 0.0 8.9 2.8 5.2 0.9 4.4 95.0 94.3 63.9 3.14

32.9 2.54

Cast net Laguna Other Santa Marta Lagoons 64.6 39.5 7.8 2.8 5.8 26.7 3.1 5.0 4.1 5.3 5.8 7.4 6.9 0.2 1.7 3.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.4 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.9 0.0 0.2 0.0 0.9 99.8 94.5 76.0





Table 4. Visual Index of Biotic Integrity (IBIVI) for Talamanca. Metric 1. Abundance of Poecilia gillii


Possible Scores 4.5


Rare or absent



2. Abundance of Alfaro cultratus OR No. of forest-dependent species

Abundant or common 3-4

Rare 2

Absent 0-1

3. No. species characteristic of rapids



Very rare or absent

Rare, principally small individuals

0-1 Common or abundant, all sizes

Rare 50-100%

Absent 100%

4. Abundance of Awaous banana

5. Abundance of Astatheros adults 6. Proportion of "sardinas" as Astyanax aeneus

Abundant or common <50%

7. No. pollution-tolerant species




8. No. native species restricted to fresh water





Informe 2007  

Talamanca (Limón) Costa Rica January, 2008 Dr. William O. McLarney Maribel Mafla H. Program Directors i Talamanca (Limón) Costa Rica January...