Costa Rica Fall 2019
At the beginning of November I represented the NHMLA on a joint expedition to Costa Rica. This trip was led by Dr. Caleb McMahan at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, and also included Dr. Arturo Angulo from the Zoology Museum at the University of Costa Rica. This expedition targeted freshwater drainages and brackish water habitats along the Atlantic slope of the country. We were generally collecting species we came across to observe variation and turnover in species assemblages as we sampled different river drainages along the coast, but we were also targeting several species that are the focus of ongoing research projects. As soon as we landed, however, the rain started pouring, and continued to do so for the first half of the trip. While we pressed on and sampled in the rain, the water levels of the streams and rivers we were sampling in were high, making it difficult to get certain species. Additionally, this created problems when we went to sample brackish waters, mainly in the sense that we couldn't find any brackish habitats... Even at the mouths of rivers, the outflows were so strong that all the water we tested with a salinity meter was completely fresh.
This may sound like a horrible setup to a trip, but in reality everything turned out great in the end. The rains stopped, and we had clear skies for the second half of the trip. Additionally, we met up with a friend of Arturo's, Maribel Mafla Herrera, who works the non-profit association ANAI. Maribel was gracious enough to not only show us some of the fishes in southern Costa Rica, but as part of the ongoing biomonitoring that ANAI does she brought out her fish electroshocker, which helped us see a lot of species that we wouldn't have seen just using our seines and nets. At the end of the trip we spent a day in San Jose at the University of Costa Rica processing all of the fishes we collected and exploring their fantastic ichthyology collection. In the end, it was an extremely successful trip. We managed to find all of the target species we were interested in, collected a diversity of fishes, and got fantastic live-color photos of fishes that haven't been photographed live before. A huge thanks to all of those that helped this expedition, with special thanks to Caleb McMahan and the Field Museum, Arturo Angulo and the University of Costa Rica, Maribel Mafla Herrera, and ANAI.