Wildlife We Study & Protect
Committed to biodiversity conservation, Paso Pacífico conducts a wide range of research to identify and understand the flora and fauna of the Paso del Istmo. We work hard to restore viable migratory corridors and healthy ecosystems for all species to thrive, but there are a few we specifically target for protection and monitoring. Due largely to habitat loss and poaching, there are several threatened species, which we consider our flagship (or umbrella) species of greatest concern.
Species with the most complex requirements for survival are often considered umbrella species, because ecosystems healthy enough to support viable populations of these animals generally have the biodiversity and resiliency to support many other species. Our umbrella species are sea turtles, parrots, and spider monkeys.
There are four species of sea turtle that nest on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua:
Both the Leatherback and Hawksbill are critically endangered, the Green endangered, and the Olive Ridley vulnerable. Read more about sea turtles and our efforts to protect them.
Yellow-Naped Amazon Parrots
Paso Pacífico is gravely concerned about the steep declines in wild yellow-naped parrot populations in the Paso del Istmo. Other large parrot species that were once abundant have already gone locally extinct (the Scarlet Macaw and Great Green Macaw), and we are committed to avoiding another tragic extinction. Learn more about our efforts to understand and protect the Yellow-Naped Amazon.
Black-Handed Spider Monkey
The Black-handed Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) is a completely arboreal (tree-dwelling) and frugivorous (fruit eating) animal that relies on intact and connected forest canopies to survive. For this reason, they are highly sensitive to human disturbance, and as a result of forest fragmentation, spider monkeys are extinct across much of western Nicaragua. Deforestation, coupled with increasing incidents of poaching, makes the Black-handed Spider Monkey the most endangered primate in Central America. Read more about Spider Monkeys and our efforts to protect them.
Other Important Species
Committed to biodiversity conservation, Paso Pacífico conducts a wide range of research to identify and understand the wildlife in the Paso del Istmo. We consider different elements of wildlife across the landscape: birds, bats, bugs, amphibians, and reptiles.
Spiny-Tailed or Chola Chata Iguana (Ctenosaura quinquecarinata)
This semi-arboreal species of iguana is endangered, and it's believed there are fewer than 2500 left, scattered across fragmented forest habitat in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Read more about our efforts to understand and protect them.
Neotropical Wood Turtles (Rhinoclemmys)
Working with the Turtle Conservancy, we are studying four species of Central American wood turtles who rely on dense tropical forested areas for their habitat. Read more about our efforts to understand how the international trade is affecting their populations.
Across the Paso del Istmo biological corridor, 100 species of bats perform ecosystem services ranging from pollination to pest control. We are working to understand bat populations and the ways they contribute to ecological health and to Nicaragua's agricultural sector. Read more about our Bat Conservation Initiative.
Jaguars & Other Predators
Jaguars, ocelots, jaguarundis, and other cats make their home in the Paso del Istmo. To find out how we monitor these elusive predators, read about our Jaguar Conservation Iniative.
We monitor migratory bird populations, identify species in decline, and restore habitat to ensure their future survival. Identifying the species who rely on the dry and moist forest habitats in the Paso del Istmo allows us to make informed decisions about what tree species are most important for our reforestation efforts. Read more about our Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Initiative.
In Nicaragua, we're protecting biodiversity by reviving the ancient tradition of meliponiculture, the management of native Melipona and Trigona bees, as practiced by the Mayans. Native bees, which nest in hollow trees and ground cavities, provide valuable ecosystem services, pollinating native flora in dry tropical forests as well as valuable cash crops. Read more about our Meliponiculture Project here.
In addition to the Black-Handed Spider Monkey, the Paso del Istmo is home to White-Faced Capuchin Monkeys and Howler Monkeys.
Thanks to the camera traps we put in place specifically to monitor jaguar populations and other predators, we have photographic confirmation of the presence of the following rare (and not-so-rare) wildlife: Baird's tapir, tamanduas, coatis, agoutis, pacas, armadillos, rabbits, opossums, skunks, and raccoons.
To understand the challenges these species and others face, you can read more about the need to protect wildlife populations.
PO Box 1244 • Ventura, CA 93002-1244
Carretera a Masaya Km 12.4
Residencial Villas del Prado, Casa No. 7
© 2006 Paso Pacífico