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The Cutting Edge
Volume XVI, Number 1, January 2009
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CASE OF THE SHAKES. Those who were there to experience it on 8 January cannot seem
to agree on whether the ca. 6.2 quake that shook central Costa Rica on that day was a strong
temblor or a dreaded terremoto, but everyone felt it. We are happy to
report that nobody in the botanical community was directly affected, as far as we know, and
no botanical institutions suffered significant damage. However, Costa Rica is a very
small country, and nearly everyone there knows somebody who was injured or killed, or suffered
property damage. Most heavily impacted was the upper basin of the Río
Sarapiquí, on the Atlantic slope of the Cordillera Central, from Vara Blanca (near
the pass between Volcán Poás and Volcán Barva) down to below Cariblanco.
This transect will be familiar even to many non-resident biologists, as it lies along the
old route (before the Guápiles highway was completed) from San José to the
Estación Biológica La Selva. As we understand it, the roadway was
almost completely obliterated in this area of knife-edge ridges and precipitous slopes.
Family members of Manual co-editor Cecilia Herrera lost a farm in the village
of Cinchona, along this route, and some also incurred minor injuries. We wish them a
speedy recovery from all of their losses. Though not widely reported in the international
press, innumerable aftershocks have occurred during the past several weeks, some nearly as
strong as the main quake.
TALAMANCA HIGHLIGHTS. The October Darwin Initiative expedition to the Río
Yorkín basin, on the Atlantic slope of easternmost Costa Rica and westernmost Panama,
was detailed in this column in our last issue [see
The Cutting Edge 15(4): 1–2,
Oct. 2008]. Manual co-PI Nelson Zamora, who participated in the
event, reports that about 60 bags of plant specimens were collected, despite drenching
rain during practically the entire period. Among the more interesting trees
encountered were Aiphanes hirsuta Burret, Colpothrinax aphanopetala R.
Evans, and Cryosophila sp. (Arecaceae), Alzatea verticillata Ruiz &
Pav. (Alzateaceae), Dacryodes sp. (Burseraceae), Metteniusa tessmanniana
(Sleumer) Sleumer (Icacinaceae), Nyssa talamancana Hammel & N. Zamora (Nyssaceae),
Oreomunnea sp. (Juglandaceae), Ruptiliocarpon caracolito Hammel &
N. Zamora (Lepidobotryaceae), and Sacoglottis sp. A of the Manual (Humiriaceae). The
richest flora was traversed from ca. 300–1000 m elevation, with Pentaclethra
macroloba (Willd.) Kuntze (Fabaceae/Mimosoideae) predominating below that zone and
cloud-forest vegetation above it.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN. As we write, Manual co-PI Nelson Zamora is
in the midst of a 10-day stopover in Vienna, Austria, where he had agreed to present
several talks on the Costa Rican flora.
YET ANOTHER WEB MAP RESOURCE. In this column of our last issue [see
The Cutting Edge 15(4): 1, Oct.
2008], we provided the link to a Web site featuring all the maps from the Atlas
cantonal de Costa Rica (1987), by Eduardo Chinchilla V.—an important reference
for assigning Costa Rican localities to their proper cantón and (if desired)
distrito. Manual correspondent Mario Blanco (FLAS) has since discovered
another Web source for these same maps that is somewhat easier to use:
This site enables the reader to home in on a cantón by clicking successively in
the appropriate area on country and provincial maps (with the name of the province or
cantón to be accessed appearing at the end of the status bar). This cannot
be done on the site we provided last quarter, where one is obliged to deal with names
only; however, that site is better if one needs to actually print out a map.