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COSTA RICA The Paso del Istmo Biological Corridor (Passage of the Isthmus) is a magical landscape that includes rich tropical forests, freshwater lakes, Pacific coastline and marine areas, and traditional Nicaraguan farmland. This corridor serves as a model for partnering with communities and is the foundation of our long-term vision to connect habitat northward across Central America. Located along the 12-mile-wide isthmus between Lake Nicaragua and the Pacific Ocean, this narrow passageway has historically served as a land bridge for wildlife migrating between North and South America. Today, the Paso del Istmo hosts extraordinary biological diversity, with a range of habitats that include endangered dry tropical forests and freshwater wetlands, and which host important species such as the endangered Black-handed Spider Monkey and the Yellow-naped Amazon Parrot. Cover: Paso Pacífico Forest Ranger Jose Felipe Garcia visits one of the reforestation areas he helps monitor. Warbler photo by Matt Stratmoen

Dear Friends, During the fall months, many of us watch our backyard trees for new colors and shapes belonging to birds passing through on their way south to warmer climates. This annual migration is a marvel of nature, and each individual species has its unique flight route and destination. One of the first birds to leave the northern forests of Canada and Eastern U.S. is the Canada warbler pictured above (Cardellina canadensis). It is also one of the last migrants to return to its breeding grounds. We have found this species frequently in the Paso del lstmo Biological Corridor in Nicaragua. With such breathtaking views of Lake Nicaragua from the isthmus, is it any surprise that the Canada warbler sticks around so long? But the Canada warbler, like many other migratory birds is disappearing. The Canadian population has declined by nearly 85% in the past four decades and the species in now listed on the State of the Birds Watchlist. The only effective way to stop the decline of migratory birds is “full life-cycle conservation”, in which wintering habitat and migratory routes are protected. Through Paso Pacifico’s eight-year partnership with the US Forest Service – International Institute for Tropical Forestry we have been actively engaged in monitoring birds and restoring forest habitat. In this edition of our newsletter we share with you more about this very effective partnership. Enjoy the birds. Sincerely,

Sarah M. Otterstrom, Ph.D. Founder & Executive Director

F RO M T H E F I E L D In 2007, Paso Pacífico was barely in its second year as an organization, but the United States Forest Service International Institute for Tropical Forestry (USFS-IITF) saw an opportunity to partner with our young organization and to help strengthen its work in conservation. The USFS-IITF’s International Cooperation program is Marlon Sotelo, M.S. focused on sharing knowledge critical to the sustainability of tropical ecosystems. Conservation Specialist I would like to share how this program Paso Pacífico has helped me and my country.

Marlon is a Nicaraguan wildlife biologist who leads our programs focused on forest birds and bats. He holds a Masters degree in tropical forest management from the Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE) in Costa Rica. His position at Paso Pacifico is underwritten in part by the USFS-IITF.

At the time when the USFS-IITF began working with Paso Pacífico, I had recently graduated from college in biology and was looking for job opportunities. I had some experience doing field work in malacology (study of mollusks) and bird research, but I was fortunate to strengthen these skills through trainings from USFS-IITF scientist Dr. Wayne Arendt. The trainings focused on mist-netting, bird-banding, and field monitoring techniques that are important for finding changes in bird populations over time and also for identifying the migratory patterns of birds that come to Nicaragua during each North American winter. Dr. Arendt is an ornithologist who has been monitoring migratory birds for decades in the Caribbean and as young biologists, my friends and I were fortunate to receive his careful teachings on how to handle

birds. Dr. Arendt continues to provide trainings to Paso Pacifico staff and young people throughout Nicaragua almost every year. Thanks to the training I received from Dr. Arendt, I had the opportunity to begin field work as a technician in the biological monitoring program that Paso Pacifico and the USFS-IITF launched in 2009. This monitoring program visits fixed points across the Paso del Istmo Biological Corridor to monitor birds, primates, butterflies, and forest vegetation. The program has gathered some surprising information about birds, including that many migratory birds with eastern and Caribbean distributions actually frequent the Paso del Istmo and depend on its forests. The monitoring program is also documenting the rapid return of forest interior birds and primates to former pasture areas that were reforested by Paso Pacífico in 2007. I believe that my experience with Paso Pacífico and the USFS-IITF helped open the door for me to attend graduate school at CATIE located in Costa Rica. There, I was able to study tropical forest management and learn more about techniques for organizing and analyzing field data. After completing my Masters degree, I was eager to return to Nicaragua and put my skills to work. Thanks to the partnership between Paso Pacífico and USFS-IITF,

Dr. Wayne Arendt explains how to measure birds to young Nicaraguan biologists.

a position opened up for me to begin work full time at Paso Pacífico, coordinating a range of wildlife research and conservation programs that include sophisticated research techniques such as the use of radio-telemetry affixed to birds and bats. I also help with forest carbon monitoring in the reforestation areas. In October I will travel to Honduras to present my research on the forest to the Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation. It was my dream to be a conservation biologist in my country and now I am living it. Educating youth is something I am involved with and which is also supported in part by the USFS-IITF partnership. Our conservation education program reaches out to children from rural and disadvantaged communities. I travel with my colleague Julie Martínez to visit groups of children and we take them on field trips to the forest, show them how to use our field equipment, and discuss the ways in which different parts of the forest are beneficial. The students then have the chance to make observations and collect data about the wildlife and forests. Many of these kids sign up for our Junior Ranger

Marlon Sotelo demonstrating the use of a radio receiver to Junior Rangers and the community. We use telemetry to track the movement of birds and bats.

program which covers a range of wildlife, forest, and watershed education curriculum. There are nearly two hundred children in our Junior Ranger program! Reaching out to the community is also an important way to raise awareness and appreciation for biodiversity. The USFS-IITF has been helping Paso Pacífico do this by putting out press releases about our work and by generating video and photos that can go out on social media and be distributed widely with the Nicaraguan public. This makes a difference to the way people perceive the environment. I am an ambassador for biodiversity in Nicaragua, and when I work on ranches and farms doing biodiversity research, I feel passionately about befriending the farmers and sharing the purpose of our work and the potential benefits of supporting conservation. Making this connection with the public and community is something I learned through the USFS-IITF and the training they have given to me and Paso Pacífico.

“Dare to change the world. There is nothing quixotic or romantic in wanting to c h a n g e t h e w o r l d . I t i s p o s s i b l e . I t i s t h e a g e - o l d v o c a t i o n o f a l l h u m a n i t y.” - Gioc onda B elli

The Countr y Under My Skin, 2001


“chubasco” A chubasco is a violent squall with thunder and lightning, often encountered during the rainy season along the Pacific coast of Central America and South America. Though the rainy season began four-months late, it came with intensity in early October. Farms and crops were damaged by the pelting rain and flooding.

P A RT N E R S P OT L I G H T J E R RY B A U E R Our partnership with the USFS International Institute for Tropical Forestry (USFS-IITF) is coordinated by Jerry Bauer who has worked in the region for over three decades. Jerry is the institute’s team leader for International Cooperation and is also a senior technical advisor to the US Agency for International Development in the Central America and Caribbean region. We are grateful to Jerry for his generous technical support. As an expert in tropical forestry communications, he guides Paso Pacífico in building outreach and education programs that provide clear messages and that also educate and inform. Jerry emphasizes the power of art, photography, and film to influence audiences. Through Jerry’s input, we have developed dozens of educational products including interpretive signs for the La Flor Wildlife Refuge, videos on wildlife trafficking, field guides for birds and wildlife, and maps and brochures for local eco-tourism businesses.

Playa Marsella, photographed by Jerry Bauer

Jerry is also a talented nature photographer and uses his gift to teach photography to local people in the region. He has taught numerous photo courses to Paso Pacífico rangers and Central American biologists. These courses are well known for being field-based, handson trainings and for reaching youth who normally do not have the opportunity to participate in photography. In recognition of this service, the North American Nature Photography Association awarded Jerry with its Mission Award in 2011 for his work in advancing conservation through training young photographers in Central America and the Caribbean. Jerry Bauer has demonstrated his belief in Paso Pacífico’s mission. Since our partnership with the USFS-IITF began in 2007, Jerry has been our main point of contact with this prestigious institute and he and his administrative team have worked hard to maintain this partnership for nearly eight years. Thank you Jerry for your outstanding technical assistance, the training and support you provide to the next generation, and for your leadership in conservation across the region.

Over 2,000 volunteers participated in this year’s International Coastal Clean- Up and collected 30,330 pounds of trash on twenty-six beaches.

H I G H L I G H T S F RO M T H I S Q UA RT E R • Marine biologists from three countries led by Arturo Bocos of the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California Sur spent ten days in the field monitoring fish and invertebrates as part of Paso Pacífico’s marine monitoring efforts. The program’s goal is to identify changes in reef communities and to respond with conservation actions. Eighteen specimens of coral were also collected in order to determine the effects of the developing El Niño event. The Multi-Lateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank made this season’s monitoring possible as part of a larger project to develop the isthmus as a geo-tourism destination. • In September, Paso Pacífico and over two thousand volunteers celebrated the International Coastal CleanUp by cleaning up beaches and waterways around the country. We removed over 30,330 pounds of trash on twenty-six beaches and eight rivers. Paso Pacífico organized the event locally along with the United States Embassy, SurfNica Magazine, Casco Safety, SER Licorera, SER San Antonio, the Multi-Lateral Investment Fund, the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association, and many other local partners. The Ocean Conservancy is our international partner on this global event. • Through our women’s sea turtle hatchery, more than seventy Green, Olive Ridley and Hawksbill sea turtle nests were protected in September. More than sixhundred baby sea turtles were released to the sea.

• As we work to restore the forest connectivity on the La Flor River and Ostayo River watersheds, we are also helping farmers to grow food and economically beneficial trees. Over the past three months, an additional twentyfive farmers have joined in the project and planted more than 25,000 additional native trees. Our partnership with the Man & Nature Foundation helps make this possible. • Migratory birds have begun their journey south and so Paso Pacífico is gearing up for its sixith year of monitoring the fall bird migration. We monitor three permanent transects across the isthmus and will also include additional wetland and primary sites as we map the isthmus for its global importance for birds. We do this monitoring in partnership with USFS-IITF. • It has been several months since we captured images of jaguars in our camera traps, but in September we relocated the cameras to new locations on our mapped sampling grid. Over the coming weeks, we will check the cameras to see if these carnivores are still nearby. Our work on jaguars is supported by the Los Angeles Zoo, the Woodland Park Zoo, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums – Conservation Grants Fund, and the US Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestry.

D ID Y OU K NOW? The Painted Bunting

The migratory Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) visits the Paso del Istmo Biological Corridor every winter from the Southeastern United States. This striking bird is called Nonpareil in French which means “without equal,” a reference to the bird’s dazzling plumage. Unfortunately, this beautiful finch is a target for the pet trade and thousands of birds are trapped in cages and illegally sold across Central America each year. We are working to stop this practice by engaging youth in bird-watching and habitat protection.

WHO FUNDS OUR P RO J E C T S ? We receive a range of support from the United States Federal Government which currently includes the US Forest Service International Institute for Tropical Forestry and the US Fish and Wildlife Service – Wildlife without Borders program. Other US Government partners in the past have included the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Agency for International Development. We are grateful to the people of the United States for this support.

The International Institute of Tropical Forestry contributes to the success of our Binoculars for Slingshots educational program.


USA PO Box 1244 • Ventura, CA 93002-1244 Phone: 1-805-643-7044 Email: Web: N ICARAGUA Carretera a Masaya Km 12.4 Residencial Villas del Prado, Casa No. 7 Managua, Nicaragua Phone: +505-2279-8423 Follow Us On Social Media:

F E AT U R E D S TA F F This list includes the names of our conservation managers who play a vital role in facilitating our projects and managing our field staff.

Science and Outreach Program Managers Liza González Nicaragua Country Director Board of Directors

Julie Martínez Environmental Education

Lotte Roache, President Retired non-profit professional Santa Barbara, California

Marcela Gutiérrez Agroforestry & Sustainable Agriculture

Gian Marco Palazio, Secretary President, Café Las Flores Managua ,Nicaragua

Claudia Perla Primate and Forest Conservation

George Gorman, PhD, Treasurer Progressive Assets Management Berkeley, California Juan Marco Alvarez Executive Director, Business Council for Sustainable Development San Salvador, El Salvador Sean Carney President, Finite Carbon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Frank Joyce Director and Instructor, EAP Costa Rica: Tropical Biology and Conservation, Monteverde Institute Monteverde, Costa Rica Diana Pritchard Anthropologist, University of Sussex Bedford, England Christine Schmidt Assistant Dean of Advancement, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, University of California, Davis Davis, California

Marlon Sotelo Bird and Bat Conservation Martín Lezama Parrot Conservation Marcos Calero Native Bee Conservation Marvin Chévez Jaguar Conservation Maritza Rivera Community Sustainable Development Milton Ñamendy Reptile & Amphibian Conservation Andrés Lester-Coll Sea Turtle Conservation Jairo Luís Coronado Sea Turtle Conservation

Newsletter - Fall 2014  
Newsletter - Fall 2014