Why Biological Corridors?

For those of us at Titi Conservation Alliance, the yearly “Rainy Season” on the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica (roughly May through November) translates to “Planting Season.”

With loose, wet, nutrient-rich soil, the rainy season provides the best possible conditions for planting trees along our Naranjo River Biological Corridor.

Also at this time of year, we often hear questions about the work of planting these trees, why it’s so important, and what exactly we’re trying to accomplish through this “biological corridor”.

So let’s answer those questions now — Why Biological Corridors?  And why the “Naranjo River” Biological Corridor?

The term “Biological Corridor” refers to any area of habitat created, (or naturally existing), that connects populations of wildlife.

In Aguirre County, Costa Rica, where we are located, there are two known geographical population areas of titi monkeys.  The red dots on the image below indicate areas of titi habitat.  Each dot represents a troop, or family, of titis.  The small grouping at the top left-hand side of the image is considered one area (named Nara Hills); and the grouping of numerous troops on the bottom right is the second area (named Manuel Antonio National Park).

Titi Population Map

These two areas, from Nara Hills to Manuel Antonio National Park, are considered ‘disconnected’ habitats due to land-clearings from agriculture and development.  Therefore, the few troops of monkeys living in either location (a total of only about 1,500 individuals), are unable to travel to neighboring troops.

Why is this a problem?

This is a genetically dangerous situation because this separation leads to inter-breeding within titi troops, and greatly reduces their genetic viability and chances of survival.

Therefore, after much research and preparation to dictate the proper lineage to connect these areas, we started work to create a Biological Corridor that would connect these two important habitat areas.  As you can see from the map above, the Naranjo River provides an appropriate, natural trail between the two areas.

We plant a combination of 22 various endemic species of trees along the corridor, which runs 2- to 4-rows-deep in most areas.

Rio Naranjo Biological Corridor

Another beautiful thing about creating this corridor is that it not only brings the titi monkeys new breeding options; it also takes them away from some of the harm of more developed areas (surrounding the National Park) where they are more likely to be harmed by human interaction.  The corridor also provides excellent, rich habitat for many other wildlife, including the endangered macaw.

As you can see, the depth of work within a biological corridor is large, and the benefits even larger.

Before the end of next year, 2010, we plan to have the connection complete with close to 50,000 trees planted in total.  The trees take five years to reach maturity, and we will continue to work with the maintenance of each and every one to ensure a successful and long-lasting corridor.

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