Danta: Association for Conservation of the Tropics is pleased to announce its 2013 field courses in tropical biology. Our courses are intended for undergraduates or early graduate level students who have a keen interest in tropical biology and conservation, but have little or no experience of working in a tropical environment. Participants may enroll on either a credit or non-credit basis.
Courses will be held in Costa Rica’s spectacular Osa Peninsula. As one of the largest tracts of rain forest north of the Amazon, this area is renowned for high animal and plant diversity. It is one of only a few places in Costa Rica that has jaguar, puma, sea turtles and four species of monkey (mantled howler monkey, black-handed spider monkey, white-faced capuchin and squirrel monkey). It is also home to nearly 4,000 plant species. All students participating in our programs will have opportunity to be involved in applied conservation (i.e., sea turtle monitoring and reforestation) and community service.
- Primate Behavior and Conservation (June 4 – June 30, 2013). Dr. Marilyn Norconk, Anthropology, Kent State University and Dr. Jessica Westin, Kirkwood Community College, Iowa. Registration deadline May 10, 2013.
Course Description: This course is designed to provide students with field experience in primate behavior, ecology, and conservation. This course will be conducted at Osa Conservation in Costa Rica's spectacular Osa peninsula. As the one of the largest tracts of rain forest north of the Amazon (roughly 400,000 acres in the Osa Conservation Area), it is renowned for high species diversity. It is one of only a few sites in Costa Rica that contain 4 species of primate (mantled howler monkey, black-handed spider monkey, white-faced capuchin and squirrel monkey). Four species of sea turtle also nest along its beaches. Please help us protect this unique region which is of international conservation concern.
The learning experiences for the course fall into four main categories: field exercises, seminars, lectures, and applied conservation. The field exercises and seminars provide instruction and experience in:(1) methods of measuring environmental variables, including assessment of resource availability, (2) methods of collecting and analyzing the behavior of free-ranging primates, (3) assessments of biodiversity and (4) techniques for estimating population size. Lecture topics will cover the behavior and ecology of Old and New World primates from an evolutionary perspective. Selected lecture topics include primate sociality, feeding ecology, taxonomy, rain forest ecosystems and conservation. Students will gain experience in applied primate conservation and also have opportunity to participate in Osa Conservation's sea turtle breeding and monitoring program.
The course includes a four day field trip to a sustainable cocao plantation and two night stay in Drake Bay including a snorkeling tour of Cano Island, one of Costa Rica's premier dive spots. Here there is a good chance we will see white-tipped reef sharks, manta rays, sea turtles, dolphins and humpback whales. On the return trip from the island, we will explore the Terraba Sierpe Mangroves, which are accessible only by boat and consists of over 100,000 acres of the largest mangrove forest in Central America. The final day of the field trip we will visit the Boruca Indigenous Reserve where we will learn about the community and their traditional lifeways. The field trip is in cooperation with Planet Conservation, our sustainable travel partner.
- Tropical Rain Forest and Wildlife Conservation (July 5 – July 19, 2013). Dr. Thomas Struhsaker, Evolutionary Anthropology, Duke University. Registration deadline June 1, 2013.
Course Description: The proximate and ultimate causes of declines of rain forest habitats and biodiversity will be examined through a combination of direct observations in the field, lectures, and critical reviews of the literature. Topics will include the role of hunting, logging, agriculture, disease, predation, expanding human populations and their consumption of natural resources as they affect forest and biodiversity conservation. Primate conservation will be used as a platform to explore the broader issues of conservation in the tropics. Students will be expected to give seminars and submit written summaries of scientific articles.
The majority of the course will be conducted at the Piro Research Station on Costa Rica’s spectacular Osa Peninsula. As one of the largest tracts of rain forest north of the Amazon (roughly 400,000 acres in the Osa Conservation Area), it is renowned for high species diversity. It is one of only a few sites in Costa Rica that contain 4 species of primate (mantled howler monkey, black-handed spider monkey, white-faced capuchin and the Central American squirrel monkey). Four species of sea turtle also nest along its beaches. Here we will spend time learning about the rain forest and the problems involved with evaluating the status of wildlife populations in the tropics. Emphasis will be on the primates, birds, and sea turtles.
In addition, problems of various land-use activities will be evaluated with side trips to an oil palm plantation, a coffee plantation, and small-scale agricultural plots. The impact of tourism on biodiversity conservation will be demonstrated with visits to local tourist lodges on the Osa Peninsula and to the Manuel Antonio National Park, the most heavily visited national park in Costa Rica.