The Virtual Rainforest
A Neotropical Rainforest
Rainforest Research


Tree Seedlings

Forest Flowers



Army Ants

Bullet Ants
Leafcutter Ants

Rhinoceros Beetle

Swallowtail Butterfly



Keel-billed Toucan

Howler Monkeys

White-faced Monkeys

Three-toed Sloth
Baird's Tapir
White-lipped Peccary
Reptiles and Amphibians:
Red-eyed Tree Frog
Poison Dart Frog
Helmeted Iguana
Eyelash Viper
Terciopelo Viper
Spectacled Caiman
American Crocodile
Human Systems:
Rainforest Boy
Rainforest Girl
Traditional Ecological Knowledge
Rainforest Research

About the Authors





Nicaragua - Where Diversity Abounds

The Virtual Rainforest features plants and animals that are found in the lowland rainforests of Nicaragua and other Central American countries. Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America and perhaps the most diverse both economically and ecologically. The second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Nicaragua has the largest rainforest in the New World outside of the Amazon Basin.

Ecosystems Cultures

Dry Forest
Cloud Forest
Pine Savannah
Mountain Pine
Coral Reefs
Turtle Grass


  • Rama
  • Miskito
  • Sumo
  • Ulwa

Creole (Kriol)

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The country is as rich with history as it is in natural resources. From 1520 until its independence, Spain, Britain, and the United States all held control of all or part of Nicaragua. Rule by the despotic Somoza family for over 40 years led to the 1979 Sandinista revolution. The combination of Somoza’s dictatorship and US resistance to the Sandinista Government destroyed Nicaragua’s economy and left the country in ruin. Fluctuating governments since 1990 have done little to improve the standard of living and corruption and poverty continue to dominate Nicaragua.

In spite of all this, Nicaragua has managed to maintain a large portion of its natural resources. Much of the population, though poor, lives with a hope of a better life.

Our research in Nicaragual tries to understand the ways in which people decide how to treat the rainforerests where they live. We hope to find ways that the people of Nicaragua can reduce their problems while also trying to protect the rainforest.





The Virtual Rainforest

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Copyright Gerald R. Urquhart
Michigan State University

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Virtual Rainforest development supported by grant #0815966 from the
National Science Foundation

Center for Global Change and Earth Observation

Michigan State University