Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad
The Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio) is the national institute for biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

 and conservation in Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

. Created at the end of the 1980s, and despite having national status, it is a privately-run institution that works closely with various government agencies, universities, business sector and other public and private entities inside and outside of the country. The goals of the institute are to complete an inventory of the natural heritage of Costa Rica, promote conservation and identify chemical compounds and genetic material present in living organisms that could be used by industries such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics or others.

The institute has a collection of over three million insects representing tens of thousands of species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 all recorded in Atta, a computer database that contains all of the data such as exact location (including GPS coordinates), date of collection, name of the collector and method of collection.


Costa Rica decided in 1989 that some sort of organization was necessary to study the biodiversity of Costa Rica. The government did not have the ability at the time to fund a new organization so a handful of scientists and entrepreneurs took the initiative and created the non-profit organization now known as INBio.

In 1995 it was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research.


There are many different components to INBio such as Bio-prospecting, INBioparque, INBio editorial, and the many different research areas such as arthropods, fungi, and plants. Bio-prospecting is the division dealing with finding useful products from the specimens collected. INBio has worked with organizations such as Merck
Merck & Co.
Merck & Co., Inc. , also known as Merck Sharp & Dohme or MSD outside the United States and Canada, is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. The Merck headquarters is located in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, an unincorporated area in Readington Township...

, Bristol-Myers Squibb
Bristol-Myers Squibb
Bristol-Myers Squibb , often referred to as BMS, is a pharmaceutical company, headquartered in New York City. The company was formed in 1989, following the merger of its predecessors Bristol-Myers and the Squibb Corporation...

, and the University of Massachusetts
University of Massachusetts
This article relates to the statewide university system. For the flagship campus often referred to as "UMass", see University of Massachusetts Amherst...

. INBioparque is a natural park in Santo Domingo, Heredia, just 85 km north/east of downtown San Jose in Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

. The research programs vary from studying the Oonopidae family of spiders to compiling a book with all of the genera of known and described flies in Central America. Such a project has never been done in a tropical place with such a large biodiversity.

Areas of activity

The Institute's work has chiefly developed in the following areas:

Inventory and monitoring: Generating information on the diversity of the country's species and ecosystems. It currently owns a collection of more than 3 million specimens, each identified and cataloged, including arthropods, plants, fungi and mollusks. Furthermore, information on the country's different ecosystems is generated.

Conservation: Integrating the information generated by INBio into decision-making processes for the protection and sustainable use of its biodiversity, for both the public and private sectors. INBio works closely with SINAC (Sistema de Áreas de Conservación; Conservation Areas System), being considered a strategic partner in the protection of the country's protected areas.

Communication and education: Sharing information and understanding of biodiversity with different sectors of the public, seeking to create a wider knowledge of its value. Most of this effort is centered in the INBiopark, a theme-park opened in 2000 which aims to bring families and visitors closer to the rich Costa Rican nature. Furthermore, through other methods INBio looks to strengthen the environmental component of the Costa Rican population's actions and decisions.

Bioinformatics: Developing and applying technological tools to support the process of generation, administration, analysis and dissemination of information on biodiversity. The information on each specimen in the biodiversity inventory can be found in a database named Atta, accessible to the public through INBio's webpage.

Bioprospecting: Searching for sustainable, commercially applicable uses of the resources of biodiversity. INBio has been a pioneering institution in establishing research agreements for the search for chemical substances, genes, etc., present in plants, insects, marine organisms and microorganisms, which could be used by the pharmaceutical, medical, biotechnology, cosmetics, nutritional and agricultural industries. INBio, although it is a national initiative given its scope, has become an international force for trying to integrate conservation and development. The application of scientific knowledge of biodiversity to economic activities such as ecotourism, medicine, agriculture or the development of mechanisms of collection and payment for environmental services exemplify this force for integration, and are part of the activities which attract the attention of the international community.

External links

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