The William Beebe Research Station (WBTRS) is located at Simla in the lower Arima valley. Originally purchased in 1949 by Dr. William Beebe, this old estate house was subsequently donated in 1950 to the New York Zoological Society (NYZS) for establishment of its Tropical Research Station. Beebe was an American scientist, adventurer and author, and considered by many to be the father of neotropical ecology. He first visited Trinidad in 1908 but only purchased Simla and its adjoining 22 acres of land, 41 years later.
NYZS supported the Station until 1970, and during that period the property was increased to 265 acres in size. It became an important hub for the study of Neotropical ecology, botany, entomology, ornithology, and herpetology. A total of 306 papers have been published based on work conducted at the field station in the years since it was established.
In February 1974, Simla was donated to Asa Wright Nature Centre (AWNC). Since that time, the AWNC has maintained the field station as a tropical research facility, and it remains a focal point for Neotropical research by several Universities from the United States, the United Kingdom and Trinidad and Tobago. Although the operation of the Research Station consumes a significant proportion of the AWNC’s funds, the Nature Centre considers the support of research on Neotropical biota a key component of biodiversity conservation, and continues to maintain these facilities for the use of undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral students.