Tropical Ecology: Books and Field Guides

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Updated: December 28, 2002


There are many books that may be of interest to you, particularly if you have a passion for one particular group of organisms, such as birds or amphibians. Recently, the Institucion Nacional de Biodiversidad of Costa Rica has started publishing some excellent little field guides to specific aspects of biodiversity (e.g., the ferns, bromeliads, beetles). Hopefully there will be more.


General Interest

Forsyth, A. and Miyata, K. (1987) Tropical Nature. MacMillan, New York.

Gentry, A.H. (1993) Four Neotropical Rainforests. Yale University Press, New Haven.

Herrara S., W. (1988) Costa Rica Nature Atlas--Guidebook. Incafo, Costa Rica

Janzen, D.H. (1983) Costa Rican Natural History. University of Chicago Press, Chicago

Lawrence, W.F. and R.O. Bierregaard, Jr., Editors (1997) Tropical Forest Remnants: Ecology, Management, and Conservation of Fragmented Communities. University of Chicago Press.

Leigh, E.G. Jr. et al. (1996) The Ecology of a Tropical Forest, Second Edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington

McDade, L.A. et al. (1994) La Selva: Ecology and Natural History of a Neotropical Rain Forest. University of Chicago Press, Chicago

Perry, D. (1986) Life Above the Jungle Floor. Simon and Schuster, Toronto.

Wallace, D.R. (1992) The Quetzal and the Macaw: the Story of Costa Rica's National Parks. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco.


DeVries, P.J. (1987) The Butterflies of Costa Rica and Their Natural History. Papilionidae, Peiridae, Nymphalidae. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Goode, Mark (?) An Introduction to Costa Rican Butterflies. Self-published.

Solis, Angel (1999) Costa Rican Beetles. Institucion Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio), Costa Rica.

general guide to tropical insects???


Bussing, W.A. (1998) Freshwater Fishes of Costa Rica. Editorial de la Universidad de Costa Rica., San Jose.

Bussing, W.A. and Lopez, M. (1993) Demersal and Pelagic Inshore Fishes of the Pacific Coast of Lower Central America: An Illustrated Guide. Editorial de la Universidad de Costa Rica, San Jose.

Reptiles & Amphibians

Chaves Mora, F. (19896) Aspectos Basicos Sobre Las Serpientes de Costa Rica. University of Costa Rica, San Jose

Guyer, C. and Donnelly, M.A. (in prep.) A Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of La Selva, Costa Rica. unpublished manuscript.

Leenders, T. (2001) Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica. Distribuidores Zona Tropical, Miami.

Meyer, J.R. and Foster, C.F. (1996) A Guide to the Frogs and Toads of Belize. Krieger Publishing, Malabar, Florida

Norman, D. (1998) Common Amphibians of Costa Rica. David Norman, Heredia, Costa Rica.

Savage, J.M. and Villa R., J. (1986) Herpetofauna of Costa Rica. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles

Solorzano, A.L. (1993) Creencias Populares Sobre Los Reptiles En Costa Rica. Serpentario Tropical, San Jose, Costa Rica.


Hilty, Steven (1994) Birds of Tropical America: A watcher's introduction to behavior, breeding and diversity. Chapters Publishing, Shelburne, Vermont.

Stiles, F.G. and Skutch, A.F. (1989) A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica. Cornell University Press

Young, B. (1996) Check-list of the Birds of La Selva.

Mammals Emmons, L. (1997) Neotropical Rainforest Mammals. A Field Guide, Second Edition. University of Chicago Press.

Anon. (1997) Species List of the Leslie R. Holdridge Arboretum. La Selva Biological Station.

Hammel, Barry (2001) Costa Rica Native Ornamental Plants. Institucion Nacional de Biodiversidad. San Jose, Costa Rica.

Hargreaves, Dorothy and Hargreaves, Bob (1965) Tropical Trees found in the Caribbean, South America, Central America, Florida, Mexico. Ross-Hargreaves, Lahaina, Hawaii.

Morales, J. Francisco (2000) Costa Rica Bromeliads. Institucion Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio), Costa Rica.

Maas, P.J.M. and Westra, L.Y.T. (1993) Neotropical Plant Families. Koeltz Scientific Books, Champaign, Illinois.

Rojas, Alexander (1999) Costa Rica Aroborescent ferns. Institucion Nacional de Biodiversidad, Costa Rica.

Unfortunately there is no pocket guide to common tropical plants. The only one I know of, namely Lotscher (?) Collins Guide to Tropical Plants. Collins. is out of print. If you find one, let me know. Most tropical plant books focus on one family of plants and are excruciatingly detailed.


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