San Pedro, Costa Rica
San Pedro, Costa Rica

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Moss W.E.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Pauli J.N.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Gutierrez G.A.,University of Costa Rica | Young A.M.,Milwaukee Public Museum | And 4 more authors.
Conservation Genetics Resources | Year: 2011

Hoffmann's two-toed sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni) is an arboreal mammal found throughout the Neotropics. Due to its limited dispersal power and reliance on forested habitats, C. hoffmanni could serve as a model species for understanding the response of mammals to land cover change. To better understand sloth life history and their response to tropical forest fragmentation and loss, we developed and characterized 16 polymorphic microsatellite markers. We tested each locus with 16-23 C. hoffmanni individuals sampled in northeastern Costa Rica. The number of alleles per locus ranged from three to seven, while mean observed heterozygosity was 0.56 and ranged from 0.33 to 0.75. All loci met Hardy-Weinberg expectations and none of the loci exhibited significant linkage disequilibrium. The microsatellite markers developed herein will be used to investigate dispersal rates and gene flow among habitat patches in Costa Rica, as well as provide insights into the life history of two-toed sloths. © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011.


Ramirez O.,National University of Costa Rica | Vaughan C.,Milwaukee Public Museum | Vaughan C.,National University of Costa Rica | Vaughan C.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | And 3 more authors.
Revista de Biologia Tropical | Year: 2011

The information on ecological behavior of wild sloths is very scarce. In this study we determined the home ranges and resources used by three adult female three-toed sloths (Bradypus variegatus) and their four young in an agricultural matrix of cacao (Theobroma cacao), pasture, riparian forests and living fencerows in Costa Rica. Births occurred during November-December and the young became independent at five to seven months of age. Initially, mothers remained fixed in one or a few trees, but expanded their use of resources as young sloths became independent from them. Mothers initially guided the young to preferred food and cover resources, but they gradually left their young in small nucleus areas and colonized new areas for themselves. Home range sizes for young sloths (up to seven months of age) varied between 0.04-0.6 hectares, while home range sizes for mothers varied from 0.04-25.0 hectares. During the maternal care period, 22 tree species were used, with the most common being Cecropia obtusifolia (30.9%), Coussapoa villosa (25.6%), Nectandra salicifolia (12.1%), Pterocarpus officinalis (5.8%) and Samanea saman (5.4%). However, young sloths used only 20 tree species, with the most common being C. villosa (18.4%), S. saman (18.5 %) and N. salicifolia (16.7%). The cacao agroforest was used only by mother sloths and never by their young following separation. However, in the riparian forest, both mother sloths and young used the tree species. A total of 28 tree species were used by the mother sloth; including the food species: C. obtusifolia, C. villosa, N. salicifolia and P. officinalis. However, the young used 18 trees species in this habitat with N. salicifolia and S. saman most commonly used, although they rested and fed during the day in C. obtusifolia, C. villosa and O. sinnuata. The cacao agroforest with adjacent riparian forests and fencerows provides an important habitat type that links the smaller secondary forests and other patches.


Moss W.E.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Peery M.Z.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Gutierrez-Espeleta G.A.,University of Costa Rica | Vaughan C.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | And 3 more authors.
Conservation Genetics Resources | Year: 2012

The brown-throated three-toed sloth (Bradypus variegatus) is an extremely sedentary arboreal mammal found in many Neotropical forests. Because of its low dispersal potential and ease in capture, it has the potential to serve as a model species to investigate the effects of land cover change in the Neotropics on gene flow and population connectivity. To better understand aspects of B. variegatus biology, such as mating system and dispersal rates, we isolated and characterized 18 polymorphic microsatellite markers. Markers were tested using 32 B. variegatus individuals sampled from a site in northeastern Costa Rica. Each locus contained between three and 12 alleles, while mean expected and observed heterozygosity were equal to 0. 72. No loci deviated from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, and one locus was significantly linked to two others. These markers have sufficient polymorphism to identify individuals and assign parentage, and can further be used to investigate dispersal rates, mating structure, and other aspects of three-toed sloth ecology. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.


de Oliveira J.B.,National University of Costa Rica | de Oliveira J.B.,Federal Rural University of Pernambuco | Santos T.,National University of Costa Rica | Santos T.,National Autonomous University of Mexico | And 4 more authors.
Revista de Biologia Tropical | Year: 2011

Raptorial birds harbor a variety of ectoparasites and the mayority of them are host specific. The aim of this study was to identify the ectoparasites of captive birds of prey from Mexico, as well as to verify their impact in the health of infested birds. Raptorial birds were confiscated and kept in captivity at the Centro de Investigación y Conservación de Vida Silvestre (CIVS) in Los Reyes La Paz, Mexico State. Seventy-four birds of prey (66 Falconiformes and eigth Strigiformes) of 15 species were examined for the presence of ectoparasites. We examined both juvenile and adult birds from both sexes. The overall prevalence was 16.2%; 66.7% of raptors were infested with a single type of external parasite. Lice were the most prevalent ectoparasites (91.7%), followed by feather mites and fleas (8.3%). Degeeriella fulva (72.7%), Craspedorrhynchus sp. (45.4%) and Strigiphilus aitkeni (9.1%) (Ischnocera, Philopteridae) were recovered from wings, head and neck regions of red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), Swainson's hawk (B. swainsoni), Harris's hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus) and Barn owl (Tyto alba). Low lice infestation level was observed. Nymphs and females of feather mites Kramerella sp. (Pterolichoidea, Kramerellidae) were recovered solely from Barn owl (T. alba); while one Caracara (Caracara cheriway) was infested by the sticktight flea Echidnophaga gallinacea (Siphonaptera, Pulicidae). No clinical signs were observed in any infested bird. Probably the periodic use of organophosphorates was responsible of the low prevalence and lice infestation levels. The diversity of external parasites illustrates the importance of detailed revision of incoming and long-term captive raptors as part of responsible captive management. Five new hosts and geographic records are presented.


Santos T.,National University of Costa Rica | Santos T.,National Autonomous University of Mexico | de Oliveira J.B.,National University of Costa Rica | de Oliveira J.B.,Federal Rural University of Pernambuco | And 4 more authors.
Revista de Biologia Tropical | Year: 2011

Successful programs for ex situ and in situ conservation and management of raptors require detailed knowledge about their pathogens. The purpose of this study was to identify the internal parasites of some captive raptors in Mexico, as well as to verify their impact in the health status of infected birds. Birds of prey were confiscated and kept in captivity at the Centro de Investigación y Conservación de Vida Silvestre (CIVS) in Los Reyes La Paz, Mexico State. For this, fecal and blood samples from 74 birds of prey (66 Falconiformes and eight Strigiformes) of 15 species, juveniles and adults from both sexes (39 males and 35 female), were examinedfor the presence of gastrointestinal and blood parasites. Besides, the oropharyngeal cavity was macroscopically examined for the presence of lesions compatible with trichomoniasis. Among our results we found that lesions compatible with Trichomonas gallinae infection were detected only in two Red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) (2.7%); nevertheless, infected birds were in good physical condition. Overall, gastrointestinal parasites were found in 10 (13.5%) raptors: nine falconiforms (13.6%) and one strigiform (12.5%), which mainly presented a single type of gastrointestinal parasite (90%). Eimeria spp. was detected in Harris's hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus), Swainson's hawk (Buteo swainsoni), Red-tailed hawk (B. jamaicensis) and Great horned owl (Bubo virginianus); whereas trematodes eggs were found in Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) and Swainson's hawk (B. swainsoni). Furthermore, eggs of Capillaria spp. were found in one Swainson's hawk (B. swainsoni), which was also infected by trematodes. Hemoprotozoarian were detected in five (6.7%) falconiforms: Haemoproteus spp. in American kestrel (F. sparverius) and Leucocytozoon spp. in Red-tailed hawk (B. jamaicencis). Despite this, no clinical signs referable to gastrointestinal or blood parasite infection were observed in any birds. All parasites identified were recorded for the first time in raptors from Mexico. Furthermore, this represents the first report for T. gallinae, trematodes, Haemoproteus spp. and Leucocytozoon spp. in raptors from Latin America. Diagnosis and control of parasitic infections should be a part of the routine in health care evaluations for ex situ raptor populations. Finally, this information is also valuable for in situ conservation actions on these birds.


Leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) nest on dynamic, erosion-prone beaches. Erosive processes and resulting nest loss have long been presumed to be a hindrance to clutch survival. In order to better understand how leatherbacks cope with unstable nesting beaches, I investigated the role of beach erosion in leatherback nest site selection at Playa Gandoca, Costa Rica. I also examined the potential effect of nest relocation, a conservation strategy in place at Playa Gandoca to prevent nest loss to erosion, on the temperature of incubating clutches. I monitored changes in beach structure as a result of erosion at natural nest sites during the time the nest was laid, as well as in subsequent weeks. To investigate slope as a cue for nest site selection, I measured the slope of the beach where turtles ascended from the sea to nest, as well as the slopes at other random locations on the beach for comparison. I examined temperature differences between natural and relocated nest sites with thermocouples placed in the sand at depths typical of leatherback nests. Nests were distributed non-randomly in a clumped distribution along the length of the beach and laid at locations that were not undergoing erosion. The slope at nest sites was significantly different than at randomly chosen locations on the beach. The sand temperature at nest depths was significantly warmer at natural nest sites than at locations of relocated nests. The findings of this study suggest leatherbacks actively select nest sites that are not undergoing erosive processes, with slope potentially being used as a cue for site selection. The relocation of nests appears to be inadvertently cooling the nest environment. Due to the fact that leatherback clutches undergo temperature-dependent sex determination, the relocation of nests may be producing an unnatural male biasing of hatchlings. The results of this study suggest that the necessity of relocation practices, largely in place to protect nests from erosion, should be reevaluated to ensure the proper conservation of this critically endangered species.

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