Changes in regional climate brought about by large-scale deforestation in the
eastern lowlands of Central America are affecting weather downwind in the
mountains, imperiling ecosystems there.
The so-called cloud forests of Monteverde lie along the crest of Costa Rica's
Cordillera de Tilarn mountains. These habitats rely on the almost perpetual fog
that forms as moisture-laden Caribbean winds rise up the eastern slopes of the
mountains and pass through altitudes at which clouds condense, says Robert O.
Lawton, an ecologist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The humidity in
those breezes is enhanced by moisture expelled from the leaves of lowland forests.
By the early 1990