Enroll in Bio 370 and 370L Tropical Field Ecology this Spring 2014 and earn 4 credits which can count as a 300 level elective for biology majors! The Field study component for this course will take place over summer break in Costa Rica and Panama, May 22- June 11, 2014
This course addresses tropical ecology starting with the discoveries and theories of early explorers to modern theories of biogeography of species richness. A large emphasis in this course will be placed on introducing students to field research in the tropics, including the design, implementation, data analysis and presentation of individual and group research projects. We will also learn to identify terrestrial and marine biodiversity of Central America and how humans impact tropical diversity and the sustainability of tropical ecosystems. We will discuss questions that are actively investigated by tropical ecologists, namely: why are the tropics so diverse, how is this diversity maintained, how do communities respond to disturbance, how are different land uses having an impact on tropical people and
communities, and how will global climate change affect communities and species richness.The course will include a three-week trip to Costa Rica and Panama, Central America, where students will directly interact with and do scientific research in the tropical terrestrial and marine ecosystems studied throughout the semester at Occidental College.
Students will be able to...
- Discuss global patterns of biodiversity, why the tropics so diverse and how this diversity maintained in terrestrial and marine systems.
- Analyze how tropical terrestrial and marine communities respond to various types of disturbance.
- Describe how humans impact tropical diversity and the sustainability of tropical ecosystems.
- Discuss how will global climate change will affect tropical communities and species richness.
- Identify common and important tropical terrestrial and marine organisms while in the field and describe how they interact with their environment.
- Apply ecological and statistical methods and principles to design field experiments.
- Collect then analyze and graph data using the statistical software R.
- Interpret historical and newly collected data from tropical ecosystems in light of existing ecological theory relating to tropical ecosystems.
- Communicate and collaborate effectively
Professors Braker and Claisse, from the Biology Department, will lead the Tropical Field Ecology program.
Dr. Elizabeth Braker is an Associate Professor at the Biology Department. She has been working in Costa Rica generally and at La Selva Biological Station in particular for over 30 years. She has taught graduate and undergraduate level courses for OTS in Costa Rica, and has taken over 60 Occidental students to conduct summer research at La Selva. She received her B.A., at Colorado College; and Ph.D., U.C. Berkeley.
Dr. Jeremy Claisse is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Biology Department. He has been conducting research in tropical marine environments, including Caribbean Coral Reefs, since 1999 and taught marine biology and ecology field courses at Occidental since 2009. He has studied, worked and traveled, in Costa Rica and Panama extensively, including participating in a UC Costa Rica Tropical Biology Program as an undergraduate and volunteering as a teaching assistant for the same program in 2001. He received his B.S. at UC Santa Barbara, M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
For a detailed itinerary click on the following link: Itinerary (coming soon)
16 students, 2 faculty instructor (Professor Braker and Professor Claisse), and support from Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) and Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation (ITEC).
At La Selva, guest lectures will be provided by OTS professional staff, including: Dr. Carlos de la Rosa (La Selva director), Dr. Pia Paaby, OTS Director of Education, and Sr. Orlando Vargas (La Selva biologist), and by several Ph.D. students or long term researchers currently working at La Selva. In Panama, guest lectures will be provided by ITEC professional staff and faculty, and Ph.D. students and long term researchers currently working in Bocas Del Toro.
We are seeking bright students who possess the willingness and ability to engage seriously with course material, to conduct rigorous independent research, and to engage with the intellectual interests of their faculty member and peers.
It is essential that participants be flexible and mature. We are looking for students who can adapt with ease to new cultures and unfamiliar conditions, who handle with grace unexpected problems, and who will possess positive attitudes in any circumstance.
The program requires a good deal of walking, up to 6-8 hours/day, sometimes over uneven terrain. In Panama multiple hours per day will be spent snorkeling in shallow coral reef environments. Additionally, some days our meal options will be limited. Finally, students will be limited to one small piece of luggage, which they will be responsible to carry on their own.
Come to an info session to talk to the Professors & the IPO staff about the program:
In addition to the previously stated costs associated with this program, students will also be required to purchase specific field and safety equipment (e.g., snake boots, headlamp, mosquito net, mask, snorkel, fins, rash guard).
The total additional cost (TBD) will be included in Financial Aid calculations for Spring semester 2014. A Financial Aid officer will to determine how your package may be adjusted depending upon your need. Please contact the Financial Aid Office with further questions.
- Faculty contact - Prof Braker, email@example.com
- International Programs Office contact - Julie Jimenez, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Email: email@example.com
- Phone: (323) 259-2533
- Visit: South Bungalows