Linguistics as Cognitive Physiology
HYDROLOGICAL RESOURCES IN THE NORTHWEST OF COSTA RICA
AQUATIC RESOURCES represent one of the most valuable and sought-after natural treasures, although in many areas of the planet they are deteriorating. Playing a key role in climatic, ecological, and biogeochemical processes, the terrestrial water cycle is being destroyed at alarming rates (Vörösmarty and Sahagian 2000). Human populations have already appropriated half of the accessible global freshwater runoff, and this share will continue to rise to as much as 70 percent by the year 2025 if these populations continue to grow as expected (Postel et al. 1996; Pringle 2000). In Costa Rica these resources are still abundant in regions such as the Atlantic and southern basins but are scarce in others owing to overuse or overpopulation, as in the Central Valley of San José. This apparent abundance has allowed this country to neglect important precautionary measures (strategic planning and conservation) to protect and develop these resources as a fundamental element of sustainable development and biodiversity protection (Quesada 1990). Perhaps the most critical area is Guanacaste, the Costa Rican northwest, where the dry season lasts six months. It is in this area that the largest extant territory of dry forest in Mesoamerica is protected (Boza 1999).
The existing hydrological connection between the different terrestrial, fluvial, and estuarine systems in that region obviously involves habitats drained by the river web as well as all their ecologically related species (birds, bats, butterflies, bees, mammals, fish, and humans, to name a few). However, biological and ecological studies on the biota of dry-forest watersheds and connecting uplands are scarce. Specific information on the flora and fauna of riparian habitats is usually limited and widely scattered in the literature. With the Guanacaste region as a frame, this chapter analyzes the importance of the stream corridors, current human affects, river research and studies needed, and the actions that are being or could be implemented to reduce or avoid major or irreversible damages.