Ecologists define 12 tropical life zones in Costa Rica, which are named according to forest type and altitude in a system devised by and named after L.R. Holdridge. Thus, there are dry, moist, wet, and rain forests in tropical, premontane, lower montane, montane, and subalpine areas.
Within a life zone, several types of habitat may occur. Much of Parque Nacional Santa Rosa, for example, is tropical dry forest, but types of vegetation within this zone include deciduous forest, evergreen forest, mangrove swamp, and littoral woodland. Thus Costa Rica has a huge variety of habitats each with particular associations of plants and animals. The country’s extensive and ambitious national park system is an attempt to protect them all.