One of our priorities at the C.R.A.R.C. is the research and conservation of the amphibians within the Premontane Rainforest life zone of the Caribbean slopes of Talamanca. This life zone is one of the richest on the planet in regards to amphibians and other taxa of flora and fauna. Our Guayacán Rainforest Reserve is located in a key location on the lower margin of this life zone, so we realized the importance to have an additional reserve on the upper margin of the Premontane Rainforest life zone as a complimentary site to be used for our research and conservation efforts. After an analysis of the physical geography and preliminary field explorations Brian focused his searches in a specific region of the Talamancan mountains, that of the Vereh River valley. Until now this general region has been completely unexplored biologically and undoubtedly has an important diversity of not only amphibians, but flora and fauna in general that needs to be documented. In July of 2014, thanks in part to a private donation, we were able to purchase 11 hectares located in the cloud forests of the Vereh River valley and dedicate it as a second private reserve of the C.R.A.R.C. known as the Río Vereh Cloud Forest Reserve. In May 2017, thanks again in part to a donation made by Nordens Ark, we were able to purchase another 33 hectares, increasing the Río Vereh Cloud Forest Reserve to its current size of 44 hectares.
The Río Vereh Cloud Forest Reserve lies within one of the largest intact sections of old-growth forest in lower Mesoamerica, that of the Talamancan mountains of Costa Rica and Central Mountain Range of western Panama. This C.R.A.R.C. reserve is connected by contiguous forest to several protected areas, including Tapantí National Park, Chirripó National Park, and La Amistad International Park.
Brian’s plan in the upcoming years is to conduct detailed explorations and studies within the Río Vereh Cloud Forest Reserve and the surrounding valley to better understand and document the natural history of the area and what amphibian species are present there. This particular region is potentially very important for many amphibian species that are poorly known and/or currently classified as either Endangered or Critically Endangered. The mid-elevation Caribbean slopes of Talamanca, where the Río Vereh Cloud Forest Reserve lies, is known to have one of the richest assemblages of tropical salamander species on the planet. Studying the salamander diversity of the Vereh River valley is going to be one of our principal priorities.
The Vereh River valley has an abundant supply of streams that potentially contain numerous species of amphibians associated with riparian habitats such as treefrogs of the genera Isthmohyla and Duellmanohyla, glass frogs, and Atelopus varius. Several species of the genus Isthmohyla are listed under the IUCN Red List classification as Critically Endangered, and the Vereh River valley potentially is home to some of these important and poorly understood amphibians.
In March of 2015 we finished the construction of a cabin to be used as a place to stay while conducting studies up at the Río Vereh Cloud Forest Reserve. The cabin is able to comfortably sleep several people and has running water that comes from a small spring located in the adjacent forest. We would like to acknowledge and thank the Manchester Museum and Nordens Ark for their generous support of our work at the Río Vereh Cloud Forest Reserve by donating the money that was used to build the cabin.
Since acquiring the Río Vereh Cloud Forest Reserve we have been very busy working on building and preparing the cabin, in addition to conducting other activities critical in preparing the reserve for our planned work up there and the conservation of it natural habitats. Despite all the physical work that has to be done on the property we have initiated work on generating a detailed amphibian species inventory for the reserve and surrounding area. Below is a preliminary list of the amphibian species that we have been able to document thus far in the Río Vereh Cloud Forest Reserve and adjacent forest.