This study describes the results and collection practices for obtaining arthropod samples to be studied as potential sources of new medicines in a bioprospecting effort. From 1994 to 1998, 1800 arthropod samples of 6-10 g were collected in 21 sites of the Área de Conservación Guancaste (A.C.G) in Northwestern Costa Rica. The samples corresponded to 642 species distributed in 21 orders and 95 families. Most of the collections were obtained in the rainy season and in the tropical rainforest and dry forest of the ACG. Samples were obtained from a diversity of arthropod orders: 49.72% of the samples collected corresponded to Lepidoptera, 15.75% to Coleoptera, 13.33% to Hymenoptera, 11.43% to Orthoptera, 6.75% to Hemiptera, 3.20% to Homoptera and 7.89% to other groups. Different life stages per arthropod species were obtained in most samples, 54.26% of them were adults, 19.90% corresponded to larvae, 6.46% to pupae, 6.12% to pre-pupae, 2.07% to nymphs and 3.74% to other stages. Other materials associated to insects like frass represented 11.20% of the samples collected. Several collecting methods were explored, based on the possibility of accessing the necessary amount of material causing the less impact. Most of the samples were obtained by manual collection (44.38%), followed by insects breeding (25.73%), light traps (18.80%), different types of nets (10.52%) and other methods (0.16%). In general, collecting methods and practices excluded the use of solvents, mixing different species or life stages in the same bag, which might have introduced undesirable effects in the screening systems for new compounds. Based on the possibility of finding new chemicals in similar samples associated to one arthropod species, the collecting strategy included the generation of several samples from same species, separated according to differences in life stages, collecting sites, ecosystems, seasons, feeding materials or behavioral aspects. This strategy allowed the generation a larger number of samples submitted to bioassays in different areas of pharmaceutical research.
Keywords: bioprospecting, arthropods, insects, guanacaste Conservation Area, Costa Rica, collecting methods, Santa Rosa, guanacaste, rincón de la vieja, national parks