Tropical Biology Resources

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Six Must-Have Books

  • Garguillo, M.B., Magnuson, B. and Kimball, L. 2008. A Field Guide to Plants of Costa Rica. Oxford University Press. An excellent resource for students of all levels.


  • Gentry, A.H. 1996. A Field Guide to the Families and Genera of Woody Plants of Northwest South America (Columbia, Ecuador, Peru) with Supplementary Notes on Herbaceous Taxa. University of Chicago Press. This is the Bible of tropical botany and every student venturing beyond the introductory level will want a copy of “Gentry.”


  • Kricher, J.K. 1997. A Neotropical Companion: An Introduction to the Animals, Plants, and Ecosystems of the New World Tropics. Princeton University Press. Anyone visiting the tropics should read this before leaving home.


  • Letcher, S.G. 2005. Common Plant Families of La Selva Biological Station. Lulu Press. An excellent resource that serves as the backbone for RainforestPlants.


  • McDade, L.A. et al. Eds. 1994. La Selva: Ecology and Natural History of a Neotropical Rain Forest. University of Chicago Press. Literally “the book” on what is known about the La Selva forest up to the early 1990s.


  • Zuchowski, W. 2007. Tropical Plants of Costa Rica. Cornell University Press. An excellent resource for students of all levels.


Other useful books

  • Janzen, D.H. 1983. Costa Rican Natural History. University of Chicago Press. Janzen’s book is a monumental undertaking that includes summaries of many common species of plant and animal. After 26 years, it is still an essential reference.


  • Keller, R. 2004. Identification of tropical woody plants in the absence of flowers: A Field Guide. Birkhauser Verlag. A series of technical keys and drawings that are international in scope.


  • Kricher, J. 2011. Tropical Ecology. Princeton University Press. Link to Princeton Press:
http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9486.html


  • Kricher, J.K. 1997. A Neotropical Companion to Princeton:
http://press.princeton.edu/titles/6179.html


  • Smith, N. et al, eds. 2004. Flowering Plants of the Neotropics. Princeton University Press. A comprehensive tome on flowering plant families. Clearly a reference book and not a field guide.


  • Various publications by InBio. Some are conveniently bilingual, while others are only in Spanish. Availability can be patchy and the best way to find them is to search the Inbio website or comb bookstores in Costa Rica.
http://www.inbio.ac.cr


  • Various publications by the Tropical Science Center. Some are conveniently bilingual, while others are only in Spanish. Availability can be patchy and the best way to find them is to search the website or comb bookstores in Costa Rica.
http://www.cct.or.cr/english/

Internet Resources

  • The Biodiversity and Ecosystem Informatics Lab at the University of Massachusetts at Boston has an ingeneous Electronic Field Guide Project that enables users to construct their own field guide using material available online and includes a section from Monteverde.
http://efg.cs.umb.edu/


  • Digital Flora of the La Selva Biological Station includes checklists, keys, and descriptions of the 2000+ species of plants that grow at the station. The site includes over 20,000 digital images. The Digital Flora is available in both English and Spanish, yet the Spanish section is more complete.
http://sura.ots.ac.cr/local/florula3/en/index.htm


  • Dr. Humberto Jimenez-Saa offers an excellent course on Tropical Dendrology and is the originator of the Plant Families Matrix used in Rainforest Plants.
http://www.hjimenez.org/


  • Lulu Press. Common Plant Families of La Selva by Susan Letcher can be purchased here.
http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/common-plant-families-of-la-selva-biological-station/449197


  • Lulu Press. Common Plant Families of La Selva by Susan Letcher can be purchased here.
http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/common-plant-families-of-la-selva-biological-station/527425


  • Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica is a project of the Missouri Botanic Garden. Keys and descriptions of genera and species are available in English and Spanish.
http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/research/treat/draft.shtml


  • National Biodiversity Institute of Costa Rica (InBio)
http://www.inbio.ac.cr/en/default.html


  • Plants of Manu National Park in Peru- taxonomic key and images for 970 trees of the rainforest of Southeastern Peru.
http://manuplants.org/


  • The Organization for Tropical Studies operates three field stations in Costa Rica, including the La Selva Biological Station. The OTS stations are available for research and education.
http://www.ots.ac.cr/index.php


  • The Palms of Ecuador Online provides descriptions and photos of neotropical palms.
http://www.palmbase.org/