Liquid Jungle Lab environs -- home to five new species

On 15 June, 2006, the first publication to assemble terrestrial biodiversity information from Bahia Honda, Panama, was presented by Santiago Castroviejo and Alicia Ibaez, editors, at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama City.

The new, 835-page, bilingual volume: "Studies on the Biodiversity of the Bahaa Honda Region (Veraguas, Panama)," contains an initial inventory of the sparsely-populated, highly-disturbed pastureland and tropical forest around the bay and on Canales de Tierra Island, site of the Liquid Jungle Lab.

"Whereas the Province of Veraguas is well-known to historians as the only piece of the New World awarded to Colombus' decendents--the "Dukes of Veraguas"-- by scientific standards it is still terra ignota," remarked Stanley Heckadon-Moreno, STRI anthropologist, at the book presentation.

Santiago Castroviejo, botanist from the Royal Botanical Gardens in Madrid, first came to Panama in 1993 as consultant on a project to conserve a starkly beautiful piece of rainforest on Coiba Island"then a penal colony-- about 10 miles southwest of Bahia Honda.

After publishing the Flora y Fauna de Parque Nacional de Coiba in 1997, he didn't expect to return to Panama. But in February 2000 he did return-- at the request of two businessmen, Jean Pigozzi and Daniel Wolf, who had purchased 6,000 ha around Bahia Honda to set aside as a reserve and to establish what is now the Liquid Jungle Lab. In the end, twenty-one authors from six countries and five institutions contributed to the inventory.

The initial chapter by Alicia Ibaez provides geological history and biophysical context. Remnant islands generated by the Galapagos hotspot that later migrated East and the subsequent volcanic and emergent terrains that formed the Isthmus of Panama form the steep and deeply faulted lands of southern Veraguas. Average rainfall is thought to be ~3500mm per year. Roughly 2,000 inhabitants subsist by fishing an

Contact: Dr. Alicia Ibaez
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

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