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Field Course in Tropical Biology and Conservation

 This course is designed to introduce students to many of the major issues in tropical ecology and conservation. They learn how to apply modern field techniques to generate and test hypotheses. In addition, they will learn about the threats to the biological diversity of tropical ecosystems resulting from human activities.

The course will follow the model pioneered by the Organization for Tropical Studies for teaching courses in tropical biology. The model emphasizes the use of field work to address specific issues in tropical ecology. The students are responsible for the design and collection of data in field projects under the supervision of participating faculty. The students are also expected to conduct data analysis, present their results and conclusions to their classmates, and write a report fpr each of the four projects they conduct in Costa Rica. These reports should follow the format of a scientific article written for Biotropica –the journal of tropical biology and conservation. The course also offers the opportunity to learn about the diversity of ecosystems found in the tropics, as major tropical habitats will be visited. Students will observe the characteristics of tropical rain forests, tropical seasonally dry forests, mangrove forest, coral reef, coastal ecosystems, and montane forests, as well as the natural history of plants and animals that inhabit them.

Students enrolled in the course spend 3 weeks in Costa Rica over winter break with Dr. Oscar Rocha, invited faculty from Kent State University and tropical biologists from the Universidad de Costa Rica. The course is taught every other year and accommodates up to 20 undergraduate students. Alumni describe the course as “life-changing.”

Kent State is a member of the Organization of Tropical Studies (OTS)