National Parks: Monteverde

by Maimouna Kante

Perhaps if George Powell had not visited Monteverde, it would have been a sight lost to farming in 1972. During one of their visits to Costa Rica, Powell and his wife, along with a Costa Rican resident, pushed to make the Monteverde Cloud Forest a reserve. It is no secret that this forest hosts a wide variety of species because Costa Rica is commonly known for biodiversity and conservation of flora and fauna.

The Monteverde Cloud Forest is one of seven parks that are privately owned in Monteverde. It is hard to have a discussion about the Monteverde Cloud Forest without mentioning the loss of biodiversity that the forest has faced in the recent years. One example of this is the recent extinction of the golden toad. According to Sixth Extinction, a book written by Elizabeth Kolbert arguing that the Earth is experiencing a mass extinction event, she describes the males as having a bright orange color that they use to attract the females. The females are a variety of red and green which allows them to blend into the forest.

According to the Science Magazine, there are two possible explanations to the disappearance of this endemic species, the first of which can be attributed to global warming and the second is attributed to the El Niño weather patterns.

Global warming could potentially be at the root of the death of the golden toad because as the cloud forest temperature increased, it created an environment that was perfect for the exponential growth of chytrid fungus. Chytrid fungus grows on the skins of many amphibians and eventually leads to their death.

Another possible explanation is that the golden toad just got unlucky. They were caught at the time where El Niño weather patterns exacerbated the already dry weather pattern, therefore increasing the amount of chytrid fungus that led to their deaths. At the end of the day, one thing is sure: warmer weather patterns have led to the extinction of the golden toad.

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