Wildlife and Habitat Data Collection
Basil G. Savitsky, Jorge Fallas, Christopher Vaughan,
and Thomas E. Lacher Jr.
Costa Rica, with an area of only 51,100 km2, has one of the highest levels of biodiversity per unit area in the world. According to the Holdridge system of life zones (Holdridge 1967), Costa Rica can be divided into twenty-four life zones, each of which possesses unique characteristics of elevation, temperature, precipitation, and evapotranspiration potential. This high diversity of environmental conditions has generated an equally diverse landscape with an extremely high diversity of plants and animals. Not all species could be included in a wildlife database, and a decision needed to be made concerning the level of detail of the habitat map that would be used as well. This chapter discusses the relevant issues for the creation of wildlife and habitat databases.
One of the research objectives was to create a habitat map of Costa Rica and superimpose it with map layers on wildlife and protected areas to perform a national gap analysis of Costa Rica. The purpose of the habitat map is to provide a polygon-structured base map to which point-structured wildlife data are related. The polygons need to contain data that are specific enough to be meaningful in diagnosing spatial trends in the wildlife data, but general enough to be manageable in addressing a national database. A target scale of 1:200,000 was