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Guest Peter Lahanas

Summer Field Course in Tropical Avian Ecology

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Guest Peter Lahanas

2018 SUMMER FIELD COURSE ANNOUNCEMENT

 

TROPICAL AVIAN ECOLOGY (TAE C-18)

 

COURSE LOCATION: Bocas del Toro Biological Station, Boca del Drago, Isla Colon, Republic of Panama. The biological station is located on a hill facing Almirante Bay and Volcan Baru on the mainland.  Coral reef and lowland tropical rainforest ecosystems are immediately accessible from the field station.  This juxtaposition of the two most biologically diverse ecosystems along with Panama's rich cultural diversity provides tremendous opportunities for education and research.  See http://www.itec-edu.org for details.

 

INSTRUCTOR: Julio Gallardo, Ph.D. cand., Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mississippi State University, USGS Mississippi Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Phone: 662-341-6617. Email: fcg384@msstate.edu, jcgallardodelangel@gmail.com

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course will start with a gentle introduction to the ecology of tropical birds and their habitats. We will then analyze fundamental concepts of evolution and ecology and discuss bird conservation issues. The main purpose of the course is to provide students with a relevant background in ecology, biogeography, and evolution to build an understanding of natural history as it links to social issues and bird conservation in the tropical Americas. We will be discussing ecological constraints that shape bird diversity in terms of behavioral adaptations, habitats, sexual selection and the evolution of tropical birds. The course will be composed of lectures and critiques of research articles aiming to foster class discussions in which students will help each other breakdown arguments into their various components to question and evaluate them. We will also spend a good amount of time outdoors watching birds, linking class with field observations. Through the length of the course, we will nurse the value of educated observations in ecology to identify patterns, ask questions, and find creative answers to practical problems. Students will learn the principles of bird study design and the basic use of analytical tools to address a research question and conservation needs. The course includes a practical component, where students will design and implement field projects individually and in small groups.

 

COURSE TOPICS:

 

·       Introduction to the tropics

Tropical origins

Tropical environments

·       Introduction to Neotropical birds

Introduction to bird identification

Neotropical bird families

Biogeography of Neotropical avifauna

Birds of Central America and Panama

·       Behavioral Ecology of tropical birds

Life history traits and breeding seasons

Principals of sexual selection and mating systems

Territoriality and communication

·       Niche concept and tropical birds

Evolution of the concept

Abundance, distribution, and niche

Niche on a macroscale

·       Introduction to bird migration

The migratory process

Migration patterns

Population constraints and migration

Bird migration in the Americas

·       Introduction to tropical island ecology

Introduction to island theory

Island biotas and island adaptations

Island Conservation

·       Animal abundance estimation

Reasons behind commonness and rarity: the big picture

Speciation in the tropics

Introduction to habitat selection in birds

·       From populations to communities

Introduction to population

Introduction to community ecology

Measures of diversity

·       Project design

How to design a research project

Behavioral studies

Monitoring projects

·       Data management and analysis

Introduction to statistical inference

Introduction to program R

Basic statistical tools in R

Introduction to abundance and occupancy modeling in R

 

READINGS: Readings corresponding to lecture-topics will be assigned from the course text and from relevant articles in the primary literature. In addition, each student will read, critique, and provide oral reports on published papers from the primary literature.

 

REQUIRED TEXTS: Hilty, S. 2005. Birds of the tropical Americas: a watcher’s introduction to behavior, breeding and diversity.  Texas University Press, Austin, TX.  Kricher, J. 2017.  The new Neotropical companion.  Princeton University Press, Princeton.  Angehr, G.R. and R. Dean, 2010. The Birds of Panama, Zona Tropical Publications, Ithaca, New York. 

 

FIELD BOOK: A field book will be required in the course. The field book will contain all data related to group projects and the independent research project.  The field book should also contain all other incidental observations such as species lists, bird behavioral notes, etc., and contain detailed location information. The field book must be waterproof and either pencil or waterproof ink used to record data.

 

BOQUETE CLOUD FOREST FIELD TRIP:  This field trip will allow students the opportunity to visit other areas of Panama, to experience Panamanian culture, and to visit tropical cloud and seasonal forests firsthand.  We travel in ITEC boats to the mainland and then by chartered bus to Boquete which lies at the base of 11,000 ft. Volcan Baru.  The bus trip will take us up and over the central mountain range and through Palo Seco Protected Area.  Several stops will be made in route.

 

COURSE LENGTH: ITEC Summer field courses are about four weeks in length.  The TAE C-18 course will run from July 15, through August 9, 2018.

 

TUITION: $2250 USD.  Tuition fee includes all lodging, meals and airport transfers in Bocas del Toro.  The tuition also covers transportation and lodging during the 3-day cloud forest field trip on the mainland.  A $100 lab fee is applicable to this course.

 

REGISTRATION DEADLINE: June 15, 2018.  The course is limited to 10 students and applications will be evaluated as they arrive.  Applications can be found at http://www.itec-edu.org/application.pdf. If you believe that your application may arrive late, notify ITEC.

 

GRADING & CREDIT: Up to 6 units of credit will be given, 3 for the lecture portion and 3 for the field portion. A letter grade will be assigned based on exams, research reports and presentations, lecture attendance, and participation in discussions and activities. Course credit must be arranged at the student's institution. Contact ITEC for details.



 

CONTACT:  Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation,  2911 NW 40th PL, Gainesville, FL 32605, phone: 352-367-9128, email: itec@itec-edu.org, web: http://www.itec-edu.org.  ITEC is a 501©(3) non-profit organization founded in 1996. 

 

 

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