Board of Directors

Karen Leavelle MSc

Karen is the founder and current director of Osa Birds: Research and Conservation. Karen has an MSc degree in Avian Ecology and Natural Resources from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and has worked in the field of avian research and conservation for over 15 years.  She has dedicated her career to the study and conservation of threatened and/or endangered birds throughout the US and tropical America, and has a particular interest in Neotropical migratory birds and the factors that limit migrant populations while on their wintering grounds.  Her graduate research took her to Cuba to work with endangered endemic bird populations to include the Blue-headed Quail Dove through the University of Nebraska, the Platte River Whooping Crane Trust and the Empresa Nacional de la Flora y la Fauna of Cuba.  More recently she has spent time as the ornithologist for Osa Conservation tracking the Yellow-billed Cotinga to determine seasonal movements and spatial distribution on the Osa Peninsula.  Karen is a member of the PIF V: Gulf-Slope Mexico & Central America/Eastern Deciduous Forest Working Group and the Yellow-billed Cotinga Working group.  Costa Rica is the place that originally sparked her interest in birds many years ago, and has now become the place where she is entirely dedicated to avian research, education and conservation. CV

Felipe Chavez-Ramirez PhD

Dr. Chavez is the Director of Conservation Programs at the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory in Lake Jackson, TX. He is a member of the Graduate Faculty, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska, Lincoln and adjunct professor at Texas A&M University and the University of Houston.  He has a Ph.D. and MSc degrees in Wildlife Ecology from Texas A&M University, College Station and a BS in Biology and Wildlife Management from Sul Ross State University in Alpine Texas.  Work experience includes: Executive Director of the Platte River Whooping Crane Maintenance Trust, Coordinator of the Chihuahua Desert Ecoregion Program for the World Wildlife Fund; Assistant Professor of Avian Ecology at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute and the Department of Animal and Wildlife Sciences at Texas A&M University- Kingsville; lecturer in Wildlife Sciences in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences at Texas A&M University. He has lectured at college senior and graduate level courses in topics including: techniques of wildlife management, animal ecology, ecology of arid lands, avian ecology, community and ecosystem function and management, and wildlife habitat ecology. His activities focus on research in avian ecology and conservation issues In North American and Cuba.  Recent focus has been on North American Cranes especially Whooping Crane, Sandhill and Cuban Sandhill Crane. He is a member of the US-Canada Whooping Crane Recovery Team, and a member the World Conservation Union’s IUCN’s Species Survival Commission (SSC) Crane Specialist Group. He has published more than 40 scientific articles and presented more than 50 talks at invited seminars and professional meetings related to ecology and conservation of birds.

Elizabeth Jones

Liz is naturalist and owner of Bosque del Rio Tigre Sanctuary and birding Lodge on the Osa Peninsula. Liz and her husband Abraham are experts on birds of the Osa and have worked for the conservation and education of birds for over 20 years.  Liz has conducted research on endangered birds of the Osa, specifically looking at the current distribution of the Yellow-billed Cotinga, the Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager and the Mangrove Hummingbird through the American Bird Conservancy and Osa Conservation.  Liz has a vast amount of knowledge of tropical avian ecology and the local abundance and movements of birds on the Osa.  She also works for the protection of tropical forests and ecosystems of the Osa and in education of birds and conservation throughout Osa communities.

Dionisio Paniagua Castro

Nito is a professional Naturalist and Tourism Guide locally known for his unsurpassed knowledge in all Costa Rican fauna, especially birds.  At a very young age, he developed an interest in insects, especially for army ants. Such was his passion and obsession for ants that his brothers and friends began to call him “oso hormiguero”, which is Spanish for “anteater”.  He took his passion seriously and in the year 2000, he received a degree in nature tourism from the Colegio Universitario de Alajuela.  In 2003, he worked for Stanford University on an avian research study bird species composition in coffee plantations which took place in his hometown of San Vito, Costa Rica which sparked in him a new interest and passion for birds.  Since then, he has worked as a Nature Guide with an emphasis on bird watching on the Osa Peninsula.  Whenever possible, he travels to other countries in order to increase his knowledge of all flora and fauna.  In his home community, Nito has dedicated himself to environmental education, working with area schools and colleges, giving talks that focus on bird preservation and environmental conservation.  He shares his enthusiasm and knowledge of the natural world with others, and hopes to inspire in them a love and respect for nature.