Our preserve is found within the Premontane and Lower Montane altitudinal floors. The high diversity of habitats the length of a humidity gradient along the mountains of Monteverde results in a great richness of species in a small area. The extremely rich epiphytic flora of the cloud forest contributes substantially to the totality of the species richness of the Monteverde region.
Complete information about the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve
The flora and fauna of the preserve is characterized by four life zones according to the life zone map of Costa Rica (Bolaños, Watson and Tosi 1999). The Premontane rain forest life zone occupies an area of 948 hectares and is found on the middle elevation Caribbean slope of the Peñas Blancas river.The Lower Montane rain forest life zone occupies the greater part of the preserve territory (2,180 hectares) and is found on both slopes on the high peaks and crests of the continental divide.
The Lower Montane wet forest life zone occupies a small sector of the preserve (341.5 hectares). This zone suffers the greatest pressure on the resources protected by the preserve, as it is here that the infrastructure for the administration of the preserve and the locations for the visitation of the thousands of visitors arriving every year are found. Also, it is in this zone that the majority of the scientific investigations during the last 35 years have taken place.
Lastly, the Premontane wet forest life zone is the least represented in the preserve with only 174.9 hectares. This zone is found on the Pacific slope. The natural vegetation is an evergreen forest with a few deciduous species and a moderate abundance of epiphytes.
The vegetation of Monteverde is characterized by two aspects in particular: the abundance of mosses, epiphytes and vines in the cloud forest, and the impressive variety of vegetative types and thus consequent high regional variety of plants. In the Monteverde region approximately a third of the flora of Costa Rica has been registered. An actualization of the list of Haber (1991) contains 3021 species including a total of 755 species of trees.
The extremely rich epiphytic flora of the cloud forest contributes substantially to the total species richness of the Monteverde area. The epiphytes compose 29% of the flora and are most conspicuous and abundant in the cloud forest. They are richest life form in Monteverde with 878 species including 230 dicotyledons in 25 families, 471 monocotyledons in 5 families and 177 fern and allies in 13 families.
The herpetofauna of the Monteverde area is very particular. A revised list of amphibians and reptiles include 161 species. The 60 species of amphibians include 2 caecelians, 5 salamanders and 53 frogs and toads; the 101 reptiles include 29 lizards and 71 snakes (Pounds, J. A., 2000). Monteverde is known world wide for being the site where the Golden Toad (Bufo periglenes) was found, species that disappeared since 1989. Similarly the populations of Atelopus varius declined close to 99% between March of 1987 and May of 1988 in the Monteverde area. Despite intense searches neither of the two species were found in the 90’s (Pounds, J. A., 2000).
The avifauna of Monteverde consists of permanently resident species, long distance migrants and altitudinal migrants, something that is typical of localities on or near to the mountains in the Neotropics. Of the diversity of birds in Monteverde, 91 species (21%) are long distance migrants, 68 species are altitudinal migrants on the central mountain range and other parts of Costa Rica and probably make similar seasonal movements in Monteverde.As for the mammals of Monteverde, they include elements of both North and South America along with endemic species.
The mammal fauna for the Monteverde region is made up of 6 species of marsupials, 3 shrews, at least 58 species of bats, 3 primates, 7 xenarthrans (edentates), 2 rabbits, 1 pocket-gopher, 3 species of squirrel, 1 spiny rat species, at least 15 species of rats and mice (Family Muridae); one species of porcupine, one species of paca, one species of agouti, 2 species of canids, 5 species of mustelids, 4 species of procyonids, 6 species of felines, 1 species of peccary, 1 species of deer and 1 species of tapir.
The climate of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve is strongly influenced by the moisture-saturated air currents that enter the country from the northeast (trade winds). As they ascend the Tilaran Mountain Range, orographic rains form as they cool or form low cloud cover, predominant characteristic of the Cloud Forest in the area. These conditions generate a markedly rainy tropical climate where the seasonal variation in temperature and rainfall is minimal, both being high all year round. In the same way, the persistent cloudiness create the particular conditions for the development of the so-called Cloud Forest.
The Pacific slope is less humid and the dry winds, free of humidity precipitated in the higher parts of the mountain range, have a strong drying effect, especially in the places that are bereft of vegetative covering. Within the preserve and in the neighboring area to Monteverde, relatively high precipitation and humidity still exists. In the glens and places that are more protected from the winds, the forest achieves its maximum height.
According to reports from the National Meteorological Institute (2005) the data taken at the Monteverde station
found to the northeast of the preserve at an altitude of 1,460 meters above sea level, from a period of 47 years that goes from 1956 to 2003, the warmest months are April with 23.9° C., and May with 23.4° C.; while the coldest months are January with 13.9° C., and February with 13.8° C.. The annual average temperature is 18.8° C.. As for precipitation, the same meteorological station reports an annual average of 2,579 mm, September and October being the wettest months (405 mm and 428.6 mm respectively), and March and April the months with least rainfall (34.6 mm and 49.7 mm respectively).