PhD. Student, School of Forest Resources

Evaluating the effects of ecotourism on terrestrial vertebrates: the Lapa Rios case in the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

This study evaluated the impacts of infrastructure, human activity, and environmental factors on medium-large terrestrial species within a private nature reserve located in one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica, and dedicated to Ecotourism. We also investigate the effects of different survey procedures to provide standardized and inexpensive alternatives for rapid assessment of biodiversity and visitor impacts. Determining ecotourism impacts, particularly in highly biodiverse and conservation priority areas like this region, is key to ensure the protection of key endangered wildlife species, for example wildcats, as well as maintaining livelihood security for local communities depending in their majority on the tourist industry. Additionally, evaluating the potential ecological costs of tourism services and management strategies have on biodiversity is key for the conservation and viability of Private Natural Protected Areas around the world. Our study indicates that: 1) ecotourism can result in limited disturbance to wildlife despite high visitation, when “sound” conservation and management strategies are in place, and 2) local knowledge and trails appear to be the most effective procedure to evaluate/monitor ground terrestrial species and the effects of tourist visitation at these natural reserves.


1. Angélica M. Almeyda Zambrano/ Department of Tourism, Recreation & Sport Management/ University of Florida/
2. Guillermo Mulder/ Sustainability Department/ Lapa Rios Ecolodge/ sustainability@laparios.com
3. Claire Ols/ Geography Department/ University of Alabama/ 
4. Rodolfo Dirzo/ Department of Biology/ Stanford University/ rdirzo@stanford.edu
5. Sandra Lucia Almeyda Zambrano/ Geography Department/University of Alabama/ 
6. Carlos Alberto Quispe Gil/ Geography Department/ University of Alabama/ 
7. Juan Carlos Cruz Díaz/ Osa Conservation/ juancarloscruz@osaconservation.org 
8. Daniel Alvarez/ Sustainability Department/
9. Valerie Valdelomar Leon/ Tour Guide/ Lapa Rios Ecolodge/ 
10. Edwin Villareal/ Tour Guide/ Lapa Rios Ecolodge/
11. Alonso Sanchez Espinoza/ Biology Intern/ Osa Conservation/
12. Arlet Quiros/ Tour Guide/ Lapa Rios Ecolodge/
13. Eduardo Avellan Arias/ Casa de Rodden Manager/ edavellan@casaderodden.com
14. Karen Lewis/ Lapa Rios Ecolodge Owner/
15. Eben N. Broadbent/ School of Forest Resources and Conservation/ University of Florida/ eben@ufl.edu