Project Description


For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it.”


Tlaloc Conservation is a newly developed amphibian conservation program within CRWF. It’s development was inspired by a truly monumental story: the discovery of a new amphibian species. 

This new species is called Tlalocohyla celeste and was discovered by our team member: Donald Varela Soto. It was thanks to his conservation driven mentality and keen naturalist eye (and ear) that this bright green frog now lives in a protected area. To learn more: link a blog post

This story not only reflects the importance of habitat protection and restoration, but the importance of recognizing and listening to local knowledge; to the communities that truly coexist with these species. 

This discovery lured in a team of people who are now colleagues and friends with a common interest: protecting amphibians, the most threatened animal group in the world. To learn more about our team members: click here

The programs’ main objective is to develop effective conservation action for the species and habitats that need it most. Through interdisciplinary action and community based decision making, we aim to enamor communities with their surrounding biodiversity.

Who We Are

Valeria Aspinall
Valeria Aspinall

Valeria Aspinall is a young conservation biologist who has discovered her passion for amphibians. She has a bachelor’s degree in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology from Colorado State University, but was born and raised in Costa Rica. Valeria started as an intern at CRWF in January of 2021. She had recently graduated from university, moved back to Costa Rica and had no idea who to reach out to for opportunities. When she found CRWF, she yearned to work there and learn from the amazing team.

Juan Abarca
Juan Abarca

Juan G. Abarca is a tropical biologist specializing in herpetology, with a master’s degree in microbiology. His research includes studies on amphibian conservation, bacterial symbionts of amphibians and chytrid fungus, management of introduced species and environmental education. Juan leads a research project centered on the conservation of the toad Incilius holdridgei and collaborates with other conservation projects on endangered species.

Donald Varela
Donald Varela

Donald Varela Soto was born and raised in Bijagua de Upala, Alajuela, Costa Rica. He is a father of three, one of the best naturalists in the country and an incredible tour guide.
Since a young age, he has loved observing nature and being in the field. His attention to detail and perseverence is what makes him such a great naturalist. Not everyone can discern minimal characteristics from the other 155 frogs in Costa Rica and discern that it is something new, it requires a major level of scrutiny.

Tlalocohyla celeste, our inspiration

Tlalocohyla celeste is the 5th described species of the genus Tlalocohyla, within the treefrog family Hylidae. It is named after the Aztec god of rain, water and lighting: Tlaloc, and its species are commonly known as rain tree frogs.  Before this discovery, only one species of Tlalocohyla lived in Costa Rica: Tlalocohyla loquax, now there are two. This genus occurs in middle America: its species are distributed from Mexico all the way down to Costa Rica. 



Hoy no puede haber salud humana sin haber salud animal, ambas son inviables si el ambiente no es saludable.