Information Resources

Species Lists

At each of our research stations, we strive to maintain species lists for the fauna and flora. Please refer to the station of interest to download the lists in an excel file, which includes information about the author and the year the list was updated.

La Selva

Species lists for La Selva include mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, and vascular plants. Click here to access information on vertebrates. See the Digital Flora for information about vascular plants. Please contact Orlando Vargas if you have any questions about the species lists from La Selva.

Las Cruces

Species lists for Las Cruces include mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, dragonflies, trees, orchid genera, and lichens. A collection of bird calls from Melissa’s Forest Restoration Project at Las Cruces can be found below, including metadata and details for each recording. Please contact Rodolfo Quiros if you have any questions about the species lists from Las Cruces.

Palo Verde

Species lists for Palo Verde include mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and aquatic plants. Please contact Sergio Villegas if you have any questions about the species lists from Palo Verde.

OTS Collections

OTS Plant Database (PV, LC, LS)

Dried plant specimens collected from the three research stations in Costa Rica are stored onsite at the herbarium of the respective research station. Researchers have built these collections as they have deposited duplicates of their specimens in the stations’ herbaria. OTS staff have also expanded these collections for research reference and study. These specimens are available for study and loan.

Digitized versions of these specimens are stored in the OTS plant database in a tab called “Herbarium Specimens.” In addition to the digitized herbaria, the database includes additional plant collections like seeds, fruits, or pollen. The data types for the station of interest will appear in additional tabs. For both Las Cruces and Palo Verde, images of live plants for a subset of species are available in the database. For La Selva, find the live images in the La Selva Digital Flora. Please click here to access the OTS Plant Database. For more information about the OTS Plant Database, please contact Wagner López.

Digital Flora of La Selva

The La Selva Digital Flora catalogs the vascular plants found at La Selva. Click here to access Digital Flora.

Leslie Holdridge Arboretum

The 3.5-hectare Holdridge Arboretum is located at La Selva Research Station. Leslie R. Holdridge, the original owner of the property, created the arboretum in 1968. Initially, it was a small cacao grove with an exceptionally rich overstory of native shade trees. To facilitate research in the arboretum, staff later removed the cacao. In 1970, Gary Hartshorn continued to plant seedlings of many native tree species. OTS continues to plant, tag, and measure trees. OTS maintains the arboretum by regular mowing and pruning to facilitate safe access. Courses, natural history visitors, students, and researchers use the arboretum for a wide range of observational studies, manipulations, dendrological practices, and taxonomy classes.

In June 2020, La Selva’s Holdridge Arboretum received accreditation as a Level II Arboretum from ArbNet. Click here to read more about the accreditation program as well as the arboretum and its history.

Valuable data about La Selva Arboretum:

Historic records of the Arboretum 1972-2017

Arboretum Plant List

Introduction pamphlet 

For more information about the arboretum, please contact Orlando Vargas.

Wilson Botanical Garden

The Wilson Botanical Garden (WBG) is a 10-hectare research and educational facility located at the Las Cruces Research Station. The WBG contains a collection of nearly 3,000 species with a particular emphasis on bromeliads, heliconias, tree ferns, palms (approximately 500 species), and bamboos from all over the tropics. Courses on tropical botany, plant systematics, horticulture, and agroecology visit the WBG. Researchers, tourists, or other educational visitors are welcome as well. To access specimen information, please visit the Wilson Botanical Garden Collection. The page opens to a map of the garden. Access the ascensions by pressing the “Collections” button.

Long-term Monitoring

Biophysical monitoring

At OTS stations in Costa Rica, we have collected long-term meteorological and hydrological data. Please contact each station for a description of the instrumentation and data collected at each station. For La Selva, contact Danilo Brenes. For Las Cruces, contact Rodolfo Quiros. For Palo Verde, contact Sergio Villegas.

The biophysical data is available here. The first page will display a listing of the stations with data available, and a place to enter the data range you would like to retrieve. Once the data displays, you can sort by each column, and the column header displays the units of the measurement. Please note that OTS stations record data at half-hour intervals and data retrieval can take some time. Please contact Wagner López with questions about the data interface.

La Selva Christmas Bird Count

The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) at La Selva began in 1985 as an official circle of the Audubon’s CBC. Every year since, the data has been complied and submitted to Audubon, but it is also available on a website created by La Selva staff here.  On this website, in Spanish, you will find information on the routes in the La Selva and Braulio Carrillo Circle, as well as information about each species. If you have any questions about the La Selva CBC, please contact Orlando Vargas or Enrique Castro.

Long-term research

OTS research stations have been the site of long-term research that has generated some of the most extensive data sets published about tropical ecosystems. Many of these long-term data sets were collected at permanent plots installed by scientists at the OTS stations. Please contact the station where you would like to work to request information about these studies and related publications.

One example of a long-term study at OTS is the Carbono project, led by Dr. Deborah Clark and Dr. David Clark, and the Trees Project, led by Dr. Deborah Clark and Dr. Susan Letcher.

OTS Library System

OTS´ library collection contains over 10,000 titles including theses, bibliographical collections, and course books from OTS education programs in Costa Rica.  Please contact Osvaldo Murillo about how to access the titles of interest from the catalog.  At La Selva and Las Cruces, we maintain small onsite libraries; please ask at reception about how to access these collections.

An additional resource of the OTS library collection is an extensive searchable database of information published about Costa Rica biology, named BINABITROP (National Bibliography on Tropical Biology). The database catalogs over 41,000 publications in English and Spanish (books, selected chapters, thesis, articles, reports, and multimedia) with more than 10,000 open access full-text publications linked to the database entries. You can access BINABITROP here.

Geographical Information

OTS maintains geographical information about the research stations and surrounding landscapes in Costa Rica.

The available information varies by station, but in general, the GIS data layers we have include the station boundaries, trails, infrastructure, rivers/streams, elevation/contours, soils, vegetation types, and other station specific information (i.e. grid system at La Selva, Wilson Botanical Garden, etc.).

Regional information may include hydrology, topography, locations of other forest reserves or protected areas, socioeconomic variables, and climatic variables. We have also amassed data from other sources like aerial photographs, satellite images, and atlases.

Please contact Wagner Lopez to request specific GIS information or go to Geographic information page to see examples of maps and lists of data.

Skukuza Research Station
Information for Parents