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La Selva

Ecology and Natural History of a Neotropical Rain Forest

La Selva

Ecology and Natural History of a Neotropical Rain Forest

La Selva, a nature reserve and field station in Costa Rica, is one of
the most intensively studied and best-understood tropical field sites
in the world. For over thirty years, La Selva has been a major focus
of research on rainforest ecology, flora, and fauna. This volume
provides the first comprehensive review of this research, covering La
Selva’s geographical history and physical setting, its plant and
animal life, and agricultural development and land use.

Drawing together a wealth of information never before available in a
single volume, La Selva offers a substantive treatment of the
ecology of a rainforest. Part 1 summarizes research on the physical
setting and environment of the rainforest, as well as the history of
the research station. Some chapters in this part focus on climate,
geomorphology, and aquatic systems, while others look at soils,
nutrient acquisition, and cycles of energy.

Part 2 synthesizes what is known about the plant community. It begins
with chapters on vegetation types and plant diversity, and also
explores plant demography, spatial patterns of trees, and the impact
of treefall gaps on forest structure and dynamics. Other chapters
address plant physiological ecology, as well as plant reproductive

Part 3 covers the animal community, summarizing information on the six
best-known animal taxa of the region: fishes, amphibians, reptiles,
birds, mammals, and butterflies. This part includes an overview of
faunal studies at La Selva and a chapter on animal population biology,
which examines animal demography and abundance, and interactions
between predators and prey. Part 4 addresses interactions between
plants and animals and the effects of these interactions on species

Part 5 considers the impact of land use and agricultural development
on La Selva and other areas of Costa Rica. One chapter examines land
colonization and conservation in Sarapiqui, another covers subsistence
and commercial agricultural development in the Atlantic lowlands
region, and a third looks at the forest industry in northeastern Costa
Rica. This part also assesses the role and research priorities of La

La Selva provides an introduction to tropical ecology for
students and researchers at La Selva, a major source of comparative
information for biologists working in other tropical areas, and a
valuable resource for conservationists.

493 pages | 10 halftones, 17 maps, 69 line drawings, 79 tables | 8-1/2 x 11 | © 1993

Biological Sciences: Conservation, Ecology, Tropical Biology and Conservation

Table of Contents

Foreword [Rodrigo Gámez]
1. Introduction: Ecology and Natural History of a Neotropical Rainforest [Kamaljit Bawa, Lucinda McDade, and Henry Hespenheide]
Part One: History, Physical Setting, Abiotic Environment and
Ecosystem Processes
Commentary [Lucinda McDade]
2. Introduction to the La Selva Biological Station [Lucinda McDade and Gary Hartshorn]
3. The La Selva Ecosystem: Climate Geomorphology, the Aquatic Systems [Robert L. Sandford, Jr., Pia Paaby, Jeffrey C. Luvall, and Eugenie Phillips]
4 Soils of La Selva [Phillip Sollins, Freddy M. Sancho, Rafael Mata, and Robert J. Sanford]
5 Soil Fertility, Nutrient Acquisition and Cycling in the La Selva Forest [Geoffrey Parker]
Part Two: The Plant Community: Composition, Dynamics, and Life History Processes
Commentary [Kamaljit Bawa]
6. La Selva Vegetation Types and Floristic Patterns [Gary Hartshorn and Barry Hammel]
7. Demography of La Selva Plants [Deborah A. Clark]
8. Patterns of Density and Dispersion of Forest Trees [Milton Lieberman and Diana Lieberman]
9. Treefall Gap Environments and Forest Dynamic Processes [Julie Denslow and Gary Hartshorn]
10. Physiological Ecology of Plants at La Selva [Ned Fetcher, Stephen Oberbauer, and Robin Chazdon]
11. The Diversity of Flowering Patterns at La Selva [L. E. Newstrom, G. W. Frankie, H. G. Baker, and R. K. Colwell]
12 Flowering Plant Reproductive Systems at La Selva Biological Station [W. John Kress and James Beach]
Part Three: The Animal Community
Commentary [Henry Hespenheide]
13. The Fauna of La Selva: Patterns of Butterfly Diversity and Ecology at La Selva Biological Station [Philip J. DeVries]
14. Ecological Aspects of the Fish Community at La Selva
Biological Station [William A. Bussing]
15. The Biology of La Selva Amphibians [Maureen A. Donnelly]
16. The Reptile Fauna of La Selva: Comparisons with Other Neotropical Sites [Craig Guyer]
17. Birds of La Selva [Douglas J. Levey and F. Gary Stiles]
18. The Mammalian Fauna of La Selva [Robert M. Timm]
19. An Overview of Faunal Studies at La Selva [Henry Hespenheide]
20 Population Biology of La Selva Animals: Life Histories, Abundance, Demography, and Predator-Prey Interactions [H. Elizabeth Braker and Harry W. Greene]
Part Four: Plant-Animal Interactions
Commentary [Henry Hespenheide]
21. Plant-Herbivore Interactions at La Selva: Diversity, Specificity, and Impact [Robert J. Marquis and H. Elizabeth Braker]
22. Frugivory at La Selva: An Overview [Douglas J. Levey, Timothy C. Moermand, and Julie Denslow]
La Selva’s Human Environment
23 La Selva in a Regional Context: Land Colonization and Conservation in Sarapiqui [Rebecca B. Butterfield]
24 Agricultural Systems in the La Selva Region: Opportunities and Recommendations for the Costa Rican Atlantic Lowlands [Florencia Montagnini]
25 Forestry in Costa Rica: Status, Research Priorities and Role of La Selva [Rebecca B. Butterfield]
26 Synthesis [Gordon H. Orians]

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