MSc. José Andrés Salazar Zúñiga

Department Director of Ecology and Ecosystem Management

Site Biologist

Ph.D. ecology student at the Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology and Conservation laboratory of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain. Biologist, Zoologist, and Master in Ecology, José is a conservationist passionate about nature, indigenous culture, and the sustainable development of rural communities. He is a Professor and researcher specializing in Herpetology and the management and conservation of ecosystems and their services. He is also associated with the Zoology Museum of the University of Costa Rica and part of the evaluation committee of the IUCN red list of amphibians for Costa Rica.

“My research interests focus on understanding the effect of landscape and climate on different ecological aspects of biodiversity, for example, species distribution, phenology, development, and survival. In the last few years, I have used the herpetofauna (amphibians and reptiles) as a model group to develop my research because they are highly sensitive bioindicators of climate, fragmentation, and agrochemical contamination in aquatic and aerial sources. At the same time, these ecological projects are integrated with conservation strategies. For example, some of my studies are currently being developed in pods of a habitat restoration program. As well, we are using focal species with declining populations, such as the tiger frog (Cruziohyla sylviae), or categorized as critically endangered such as the lemur frog (Agalychnis lemur).

Additionally, I have also focused on ecosystem management projects. In this line of work, I consider it essential to integrate my ecological results and those of my work team into regional policies that are aligned with the country’s environmental commitments, as well as promoting comprehensive ecosystem conservation that starts from the sustainable development of the communities, articulated with NGOs and the state”.

Researchgate Profile:

Lic. Diego Salas Solano

Research Coordinator

Site Biologist

Diego is a field biologist who developed his studies at the University of Costa Rica. In recent years he has focused on the diversity and natural history of the mammals and plants of Veragua Rainforest and its surroundings.

His interest in these groups has led him to document ecological interactions such as frugivory, seed dispersal, plants used by bats to build their tents, and pollination. He develops a conservation program that seeks to propagate species used by local wildlife, a strategy where native plants are used to restore the landscape and promote ecosystem services.

Researchgate Profile:

Javier Lobon-Rovira

Associate Researcher

Wildlife Photographer and Ph.D. student

Javier Lobon-Rovira is a Wildlife Photographer and Ph.D. student at CIBIO-InBio institution from Portugal. He has assisted as an Animal Care Volunteer at Wildlife Rescue Association (Vancouver, Canada) in rehabilitating wildlife and promoting wild animals’ welfare in the urban environment.

He has been a field assistant with Moose and Wolves in Utah and sampling fishes with electric-fishing techniques. While doing his Master’s thesis, he identified a “lost population” of Iberian Lynx by anecdotal occurrence data and molecular scatology for a major part of my Master in Science Degree. Furthermore, he collaborated on many different herpetology and conservation projects. Currently, he is developing a Ph.D. on the Systematic and Evolution of Geckonids from Southern Africa, which includes a description of species and identifies several evolutionary hypotheses within this group.

Researchgate Profile:

Wagner Chaves-Acuña

Associate Researcher

Herpetologist and Ph.D. student

Ph.D. student in the Department of Biodiversity and Experimental Biology at Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina, and a fellow of Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) at the Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales “Bernardino Rivadavia,” Argentina (MACN).

Wagner is also an associated researcher at Veragua Foundation, where he has conducted research on bioacoustics and the behavior of dendrobatids and centrolenids. His current research interests include systematics, taxonomy, and evolution of hylids, as well as conservation projects with critically endangered species of anurans.

Researchgate Profile:

MSc. Rolando Ramírez Campos

Associate Researcher


Tropical Biologist graduated from the National University of Costas Rica (UNA), Natural Resources Manager from the Distance State University of Costa Rica (MARENA – UNED), with courses in Diversity, Biology, and Systematics of Coleoptera at the University Center of Biological Sciences and Agricultural (CUCBA) – University of Guadalajara, Mexico. Since 2013 he has been a professor in Ecological Tourism management at the University of Tourism of Costa Rica.

Since 2005 he has been dedicated to the study and monitoring of beetles, mainly focused on the Chrysomelidae and Cerambycidae families. Rolando stands out for having developed species inventories throughout Costa Rica, with new species reported for the country and science. In addition to conducting research in the ecology and ethology of Coleoptera.

As of 2018, he has dedicated himself to investigating the conservation status, distribution, and behavior of populations of Coleoptera and other insects associated with urban environments, rural areas, and agricultural activities. These investigations seek to understand better the possible effects of climate change and anthropogenic activities on the abundance and diversity of beetles. These projects also seek to develop strategies to improve their habitat in this highly vulnerable ecosystem.

Fabiola Chirino

Veragua Foundation Research Assistant

Veragua Foundation research fellowship for young researchers’ winner

Fabiola Chirino is a Costa Rican biologist who has been part of the Veragua Foundation research team since the beginning of her career, standing out for her work as a research assistant. In addition, she has actively contributed to achieving the organization’s goals in sustainable development, environmental education, and conservation. She has currently been chosen by the herpetology laboratory of the Veragua Foundation to lead one of the conservation projects prioritized by the NGO.

“I am finishing my undergraduate thesis at the University of Costa Rica with an emphasis on Zoology. I found great interest in tropical biology and conservation. We live in a time where tropical species may be the most vulnerable to extinction. For this reason, my projection as a biologist is to be able to generate an impact in the conservation of tropical ecosystems with the help of science, environmental education, and scientific dissemination.
In my thesis, I developed an automatic detection tool with my thesis team to identify Agalychnis lemur (Critically Endangered) calls collected from passive recorders. We intend to learn a little more about the acoustic activity of A. lemur and the effect that some climatic variables have on its singing activity.”