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Sustainable Development and Wild Nature Conservation in NICARAGUA

Conservation Science Research


Tropical biology is an immediately relevant field of study in Nicaragua. Our current understanding of all terrestrial and coastal ecosystems is so limited, that comprehensive biodiversity lists do not even exist for most of the sites of interest in Nicaragua. Information on the essential working of the ecosystems of Nicaragua is vital to their protection as development encroaches on areas until recently left untouched. GAIA conducts studies on a variety of topics in biodiversity and ecology throughout Nicaragua. Furthermore, climate change is real in Nicaragua, and it threatens the environment of both humans and wildlife. Research on natural areas can reveal important information on climate change patterns and may help to save species from extinction and retain important environmental services at risk in the not-so-distant future.

GAIA has conducted ecological research in the majority of the protected areas in Nicaragua, with particular concentrations in some of two with volcanic crater lakes: Laguna de Xiloá, which is part of the Chiltepe Peninsula Nature Reserve, and, of course, the Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve, where GAIA operates Estación Biológica Laguna de Apoyo. In both protected areas, GAIA staff have studied bird communities.

GAIA research projects in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve have dealt with topics as diverse as forest product and natural areas management, monkey ecology, and butterfly biodiversity.

Relevant terrestrial biodiversity and ecology publications involving GAIA research:

McCrary JK, Gates JE (2007): Evidences of brood parasitism of Giant Cowbird (Molothrus oryzivorus) on Spot-breasted (Icterus pectoralis) and Streaked-backed (Icterus pustulatus) Orioles. Ornitología Neotropical 18:111-115.

McCrary JK, Arendt WJ, Morales S, Arengi JT, López LJ (2008): New avian sight records for Nicaragua, with notes on abundance, distribution and habitat use. Cotinga 29:102-107

McCrary JK, Arendt WJ, Chavarría L, López LJ, Somarriba PA, Boudrault P-O, Cruz AL, Muñoz FJ, Mackler DG (2009): A contribution to Nicaraguan ornithology, with a focus on the pine–oak ecoregion. Cotinga 31:89-95.

van Dort J, McCrary JK (2010): Lepidoptera de la Reserva Natural Laguna de Apoyo. Revista Nicaragüense de Biodiversidad y Areas Protegidas 2:87-92.

Research on environmental and sustainable development issues by GAIA has resulted in a large quantity of scientific research publications.

You can help us keep nature wild in Nicaragua, by volunteering your time with us or making a small donation to support our projects in wild nature conservation.

Bird studies in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve, Nicaragua

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Proyecto Ecológico

Bird populations are monitored in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve by the staff and volunteers of Estación Biológica Laguna de Apoyo. Photo Joe Taylor.


tropical biology

Gaia Program experts support wildlife studies important to the economy of Nicaragua, such as the impacts of windmills on wildlife. A major wind farm in Rivas is located along an important bird migration corridor. Photo Pablo Somarriba.



Tropical biology field research is conducted on several animal and plant groups at Estacinó Biológica Laguna de Apoyo. Photo Jeffrey McCrary.



Field identification of the reptiles of Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. Photo Kolby Kirk.



The forest inside the crater in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve contains dozens of terrestrial reptile species, making the area an ideal site for wildlife studies. Photo Jeffrey McCrary.



Gaia supports studies of the butterflies and moths of Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve, with two scientific publications on the subject. Photo Aura Cruz.



The brown vine snake Oxybelis aeneus is among the diverse wildlife of Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. Photo Lewis Honor.



Scientific SCUBA diving in Laguna de Apoyo. The Gaia Program can provide logistical and scientific support for studies of ecosystems such as freshwater lakes and rivers, and tropical forests. We arrange, coordinate, and support internships and scientific partnerships throughout Nicaragua. Photo Topi Lehtonen.



Gaia edits and publishes the scientific journal Estudios Ambientales, available free of charge to all readers in pdf format, free of charge to all. Read scientific reports on environmental topics in Nicaragua, written by professionals working in the country. Estudios Ambientales publishes research reports on biodiversity, environment, geology, geography, ecology, and associated topics. Click on the cover illustration for your copy.