Why is Costa Rica so biodiverse?
Costa Rica is no doubt one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth. With an area of only 19,729 mi², this small country inhabits over 500,000 species, representing about 6% of the planet’s biodiversity. However, only about 18% of it is known, so there are about 91,000 identified species in Costa Rica.
There are a wide variety of species found in this country:
- Mammals: About a total of 227 species. There are 30 species of marine mammals. Furthermore, there are four different species of monkeys in the country i.e. the squirrel monkey, the spider monkey, the capuchin, and the howler monkeys. Apart from this, there are many bats species, dantas, and felines e.g. the ocelot, the puma, and the jaguar.
- Amphibians: Toads and frogs (a total of about 183 species).
- Reptiles: A large number of turtles, alligators, crocodiles, and snakes.
- Birds: Over 800 species that include eagles, macaws, amazons, parrots, and other birds of prey.
At the Central American level, this country ranks first in amphibians, second in mammals, birds, and plants, and third in fish and reptiles. Between plants and vertebrates, over 13,091 species have been identified. It is the second largest species variety in Central America.
Causes of Biodiversity in Costa Rica
The following are the main causes of biodiversity in Costa Rica:
Costa Rica is situated in the Intertropical zone of the planet, to the south of Central America. As compared to other continents, these zones of the American continent generally have relatively more biodiversity. As a comparison, 1 km² of rainforest in this country hosts a lot more species than, let’s say, 1 km² of Central Africa’s rainforest.
Apart from this, this country is located very close to the equator. According to estimates, the countries located closest to the equator are generally more biodiverse. Therefore, for instance, the Lacandon Jungle situated in the Mexican state of Chiapas (it is spread about 3,706 mi²) hosts about 3,000 plant species while the central Costa Rica’s tropical rainforest (it is spread about 463 mi²) hosts about 6,500 plant species.
From sea level to 3,820 m of altitude, the height range of this country is very broad ranging. This causes Costa Rica to develop varied ecosystems. So, the regions of greater height e.g. Cordillera de Talamanca, give the vegetation of tundra, while the areas of low plains e.g. Caribbean, give the rainforest.
One of the primary reasons Costa Rica has a lot more marine species than other countries is the fact that it has two coasts i.e. the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
The biodiversity of Costa Rica is attributed to various factors e.g. altitude, geographic location, dramatic shifts in terrain, etc. This relatively small country has arid plains, rivers, mountains, and wetlands. There are mountain ranges, some of which feature volcanoes. You can find a wide variety of forests here, including rainforests, cloud forests, and dry forests. All these diverse environments make Costa Rica one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet.