In this year-long project students at Escuela Verde will survey the biodiversity in the microhabitats around each of their homes, on the school grounds and at each field trip location during the school year. All survey sites will be mapped using GIS. Our goals are to create a long-term database on the rich biodiversity found in this region of Costa Rica, and to share our database with the scientific community and conservation organizations. Ultimately we hope that our project will provide information to help conserve the biodiversity of this region of Costa Rica, and to allow each student to become better aware and knowledgeable of the amazing biodiversity in their "backyard."
Each student will follow the same protocol for surveying the biodiversity around their home at least twice each month during the school year. This will include recording the date, time range and weather conditions of each survey as well as a detailed description of (1) each species that they observe (sketches and photographs will be encouraged) and (2) the microhabitat in which they observe each species. Students can choose whether they will be generalists (surveying all organisms in their "backyard") or specialists (surveying one or a few specific groups of organisms in their "backyard", for example birds and orchids). The same protocol will be followed when surveys are done as a class during field trips and during on-campus walkabouts. We will use class time as well as after-school time to identify species that students observe, with help from The Web of Life, field guides and local biologists and naturalists. Additionally, each survey location will be mapped using GIS. All of this information will allow us to create an annual report on the biodiversity in this region of Costa Rica, including data on geographic ranges in relation to habitat availability as well as seasonal variation in species presence. It is also our hope that this project will occur across several years, so that we will also be able to track the biodiversity of this region in many different locations (student "backyards") and across the long term.