Soberanía National Park is 25 km from Panama City, about a 40-minute drive from the airport. The park is 19,341 hectares and home to many species of plants and animals. The Gamboa Rainforest Lodge is located in the buffer zone of the park, on the edge of Lake Gatun, within sight of the Chagres River and the Panama Canal. Warm weather and frequent rain is normal here. The fog settles into the forest as the cool night air soaks in and lifts as the sun rises over the lake. Howler monkeys call in this forest to announce their troop locations. White-faced capuchin monkeys, sloths, coatis, and many species of bird including toucans, trogans, tinamous, and hummingbirds are found here.
I only had a short time to collect data in SNP. The pictures and graph are the result of only 4 trapnights, while we compare to 140 trapnights in our full datasets for protected areas and schoolyards. Yet the captures in this incredible rainforest were exciting and so varied from what we capture in our temperate climate locations that this is a fun collection to share as a sample of a remote protected area in addition to your complete datasets. The pictures are labeled to indicate which animals you will find in the picture to make these easier to present to your students.
Agoutis are diurnal, and a pair defends a territory big enough to supply the patchy fruits needed to survive. Agoutis were captured often. The paca is closely related to the agouti. Pacas have a spotted coat, which makes them easy to tell from the agouti. Pacas are nocturnal but use the habitat in ways similar to the agouti. Pacas are endangered, so it was a rare treat to be able to capture so many pictures of this mammal. Capybaras are the world’s largest living rodent. They spend most of their time in and near the water. Their scientific name means “water pig,” and they do look a lot like semi-aquatic pigs. The groups that I observed were about 8-10 animals. They came out of the dense foliage near the edge of the lake to graze on grasses in the area. They did not eat the palm fruits near the camera but instead were active on their regular routes of travel.
The Common opossum did not show up until the final night, but then made quite a number of appearances, frequently appearing at the site along with the paca. The Common opossum (Didelphis marsupialis) is closely related to our own Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana). They eat similar types of foods, but they look a bit different. Can you use what you know about the Virginia opossum to identify physical characteristics that are different between these two species?
Our data are available for only 4 trapnights in Dec. 2009 . Note that the graphs will open in a new window. Close the graph window to return here.