Six plant associations were identified at Gandoca Lagoon by photointerpretation and field verification: a) mangroves, b) palm trees swamp, and palm trees with Acrostichum aureum and A. danaefolium, c) mixed palm trees, d) very humid tropical rain forest, and e) tropical beach vegetation. The mangroves cover 12.5 ha surrounding the lagoon and extend 2 km up the Gandoca River. Rhizophora mangle (red mangrove) was the dominant species, with Avicennia germinans (black mangrove), Laguncularia racemosa (white mangrove) y Conocarpus erectus (buttonwood) also present. Moving inland the mangroves grade into a tropical rain forest. Gandoca, the largest and best preserved mangrove of Caribbean Costa Rica, tripled its area from 1976 to 2000. Possible causes include sedimentation and the Limón earthquake, which may have subside the lagoon area.
Keywords: Caribbean, Costa Rica, Gandoca lagoon, wetlands, mangrove, plant association