Collecting Trip to Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador

October 1999

by Federico C. Ocampo

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The study area: Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.


From 10-20 October 1999, Brett Ratcliffe and Federico Ocampo went to Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador to conduct research, identify and curate collections, and collect for the project "Faunistic Survey of the Dynastine Scarab Beetles of Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador".

 Co-PIs Brett Ratcliffe (left) and Ronald Cave at the insect collection of the Escuela Agrícola Panamericana in Zamorano, Honduras.
Photo by Federico Ocampo.

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In Honduras we stayed at the Escuela Agrícola Panamericana in Zamorano. Dr. Ronald Cave, the Co-PI on the project, is the curator of the collection and a faculty member at EAP. EAP has the largest collection of scarabs in Mesoamerica outside of Costa Rica and Mexico.

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Federico Ocampo and Ronald Cave collecting at Cerro Apalaya in Honduras.
Photo by Brett Ratcliffe.

Most dynastine scarab beetles are nocturnal and are attracted to lights, so using light traps is the best way to collect them. We also use flight intercept traps, fruit baits, foliage gleaning, and searching in logs and stumps.

Male minor of Golofa pizarro Hope. This is a large species that lives from Mexico to Nicaragua. The specimen was collected at Cerro Apalya, Honduras, at 1400 m altitude during a cold, misting rain.
Photo by Federico Ocampo.

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The Museo de Historia Natural de El Salvador is an old building that is now being reconditioned. It is located in a forested city park that used to be a coffee plantation. At the museum we presented a workshop on how to identify dynastines to people from several agencies that are collaborating with the project. Also at the museum we organized and identified the collection.

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The main building (currently being renovated) of the Museo de Historia Natural de El Salvador in San Salvador. This was originally the home of the Japanese owner of the coffee plantation.
Photo by Brett Ratcliffe.

Volcán Izalco, El Salvador. Photo taken from adjacent Cerro Verde.
Photo by Federico Ocampo.

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In El Salvador we collected at Cerro Verde. This mountain is about 2,000 meters high. At that altitude we were collecting in cloud forest. The natural vegetation has been less disrupted, and so the diversity of insects and other animals is higher. In the lowlands the natural forest has been cleared for coffee plantations, sugar cane, and other crops. The higher areas of the mountains and volcanoes are now refuges of biodiversity, but these areas are becoming more and more isolated because of continuing deforestation.

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Eunice Echeverría, director of the Museo de Historia Natural de El Salvador and principal collaborator in El Salvador for the survey.
Photo by Federico Ocampo.

Federico Ocampo with a small specimen of Megasoma elephas (Fabricius).
Photo by Brett Ratcliffe.

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Jean-Michel Maes in his lab at the Museo Entomológico in León. Jean-Michel, a lucanid specialist, is the collaborator for the project in Nicaragua.
Photo by Federico Ocampo.

In Nicaragua, we collaborated with Jean-Michel Maes, curator of the Museo Entomológico. We also curated the collection at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua. Our team and Jean-Michel conducted a brief collecting excursion to Volcán Chonco where we worked in a tropical dry forest.

Megasoma elephas. The Elephant Beetle.
Photo by Federico Ocampo.

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Megasoma elephas anticipating the onset of rain at Zamorano, Honduras.
Photo by Federico Ocampo.