Research Opportunities in the Region
The juxtaposition of tropical lowland rain forests and coral reefs provides unparalleled opportunities for research at the Bocas del Toro Biological Station. The number of distinct habitats is very large and include terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems. Terrestrial habitats include florally-diverse tropical wet forest, riparian zones, Raphia/Symphonia swamps and pastures in varying degrees of openness (some are savanna-like). Except for jaguars and tapirs, which have been extirpated from the island, these forests support the same basic fauna as the mainland, including monkeys, sloths, cats, and rodents, and a very diverse bird, reptile, amphibian and insect fauna. Freshwater habitats include vernal pools, streams, marshes, swamps, and ponds which support a diverse fish fauna. Two riverine systems also occur in our area (Soropta Canal and Banana River) and are home to a myriad of wading birds. Marine habitats include soft and hard coral reefs, turtle grass (Thalassia) beds, high and low impact beaches, rocky intertidals, mangrove forests and estuaries. Isla Colón also has limestone caves which support a number of bat species. Please see “Species Lists”(Pending).
The availability of four species of sea turtles (leatherback, green, loggerhead and hawksbill) makes the Bocas del Toro region particularly well suited for their study. Most abundant are the leatherback and hawksbill which both nest and feed in the region.
There is also opportunity to study the indigenous cultures of Panama. The Ngöbe and Naso cultures are centered in the Bocas del Toro region and several islands support large populations. Other indigenous cultures in Panama include the Emberá and Wonnan of the Darién, and the very colorful Kuna of the San Blas Islands. The Kuna make the Panamanian mola, a reverse appliqué cloth tapestry that has become famous worldwide.
Field Station Facilities
Laboratory. Our new, spacious laboratory contains a variety of analytical equipment including balances, microfuge, stereo and compound microscopes, dissecting equipment, dial calipers, assorted lab ware, aquaria and pumps, terreria, insect setting and preparation equipment, plant drying boxes, herbarium and insect cabinets, Berlese funnels, tool boxes, etc. A partial list of field equipment includes Pesola scales, sling psychometer, thermometers, 30m and 50m tape measures, photometer, spherical densiometers, dip nets, seines, surveyor’s flags, flagging, insect nets, UV light, plant shears, plant presses, etc.
Vehicles and Boats. Our current list of vehicles and boats include a 4-wheel drive pickup, ATV, 25 ft. boat with 60 hp motor seating 20, 22 ft. boat with 40 hp motor seating 14, two row boats and 18 ft. aluminum canoe. Use of vehicles and boats are available to researchers and is included in the daily station research rate.
Dive Bodega. The dive bodega (store room) is located next to our boat dock on Ground Creek. The dive bodega offers storage for dive tanks, dive equipment and marine research equipment. Equipment available to researchers include life preservers, dive tanks, dive weights, some masks, snorkels and fins, seine and dip nets, planktonic settlement platforms, sedimentation tubes, refractometer and other salinity guages, secchi disks, aquaria, etc. A 350 gal water tank provides water for the rinse tank and showers available at the bodega.
Library. The main library contains 2000+ volumes and several hundred reprints covering a wide variety of topics. A printer, scanner and photocopy machine, slide, overhead, and digital projectors, chart-preparation materials, etc. are also available. Internet WiFi and telephone service are available at the field station. Internet is also available in town at a number of internet cafes and several free WiFi hotspots.
Housing for Researchers. Researchers are currently housed in private or shared rooms either in the dormatory or in four private rooms upstairs in the laboratory building. The dorm rooms contain either bunkbeds or single beds and have their own bathrooms. The four laboratory bedrooms share a bathroom.