F&ES 717b / 2019-2020

Tropical Field Ecology

Credits: 3

Spring 2020: Time and location TBA

This course is designed to give students firsthand knowledge of tropical biology and the issues surrounding conservation of biodiversity in a developing nation, through a combination of seminar-style discussions and a mandatory twelve-day field trip over winter break. The emphasis is on active learning and developing independent research projects carried out during the field trip. Using a case-study approach, topics covered include patterns of biodiversity, tropical forest dynamics, reforestation, species interactions and coevolution, climate change impacts, ecosystem services, and human land use. Students also gain experience with study design, data collection methods, and statistical analysis. This year’s field trip is to Panama, a country famous for its high biological, cultural, and economic diversity. We visit a variety of forest ecosystems and hear from local and international scientists about current research in the field. Students undertake two short research projects and also learn basic identification and natural history of tropical plant, bird, and insect species. Students should expect to spend a major part of each day outside in the natural tropical environment under adverse conditions. Enrollment limited to fifteen, with a course application due early in the fall term. Priority is given to students planning to conduct field research in the tropics.
Limited to 15