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Costa Rican Ecosystems$
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Maarten Kappelle

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226121505

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226121642.001.0001

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The Gulf of Nicoya Estuarine Ecosystem

The Gulf of Nicoya Estuarine Ecosystem

(p.139) Chapter 6 The Gulf of Nicoya Estuarine Ecosystem
Costa Rican Ecosystems

José A. Vargas

University of Chicago Press

The extensive hydrological connection between the Gulf of Nicoya and the watersheds draining into it gives origin to one of the most prominent ecological and geographical systems of Costa Rica. It is also one of the better known tropical estuaries worldwide. This chapter gives an overview of the general function of the estuary as a system and a description of the physical properties of its water and sediment. Further, it summarizes published results on the most important communities of the Gulf of Nicoya ecosystem, providing information on the various populations of invertebrates, vertebrates, algae, plankton, and vegetation and how these interact. The author also outlines the difficulty, importance, and development of trophic modeling systems for the improved understanding of Gulf ecosystems. Finally, the Gulf of Nicoya is considered in view of worldwide trends in the effects of human activity on estuaries, which have been degraded more than any other marine ecosystem by exploitation and pollution. Historical, current, and speculative management policies are discussed, with an emphasis on the shift from species-based to ecosystem-based conservation strategies.

Keywords:   Costa Rica, ecosystem, estuary, overfishing, mangroves, plankton, fish, conservation, trophic modelling

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