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2013 Winter Course Announcement (December 20, 2013-January 9, 2014)




COURSE LOCATION: Bocas del Toro Biological Station, Boca del Drago, Isla

Colon, Republic of Panama. The biological station is located on a hill

facing the Caribbean Sea. Coral reef, seagrass and mangrove ecosystems are

in front of the station and lowland tropical forests lie directly behind.

This juxtaposition of the two most biologically diverse ecosystems provides

tremendous opportunities for education and research. See

http://www.itec-edu.org/index.html for details.


INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Julie E. Helson, University of Toronto, Canada., email:

juliehelsongmail.com, Specialty: conservation ecology, ecological theory

applied to current environmental problems, community ecology, plant-insect



COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course is designed to provide the student with a

sound foundation in ecological concepts and field techniques as applied to

conservation ecology in a tropical setting. The material covered is

equivalent to a university upper level course in conservation ecology. The

course will include a discussion of general conservation biology topics and

principals, as well as taking a more focused look at conservation issues

affecting developing countries in the tropics and especially the Neotropics

(e.g., uncontrolled development, burgeoning tourism, population growth,

deforestation, pollution, and the over-utilization of marine resources).

Students in this course will also work closely with the local communities

(e.g., local schools to develop conservation education programs; and the

local indigenous Ngöbe community to analyze the effects of tourism) . The

course is divided into five distinct categories: formal classroom lectures

(written exam); informal field lectures; readings, discussions and critiques

presented by students; group field projects; and individual research



Lectures. Formal lectures will take place in the classroom and will include

the use of PowerPoint presentations and chalk boards. Main topics that will

be covered are provided in the "Formal Lecture Topics". Lectures will also

provide information to orientate students for both group and individual

projects. Informal lectures will be provided periodically during

orientation walks (when you first arrive), during group field projects, and

in discussion groups.


Formal Lecture Topics


· What is Conservation Biology?

· Defining Biodiversity

· The Conservation Biologist's Toolbox

· Valuing Biodiversity

· Threats to Biodiversity (Habitat destruction, Habitat fragmentation,

Overexploitation, Invasive species, Climate change, Fire)

· Documenting and Predicting Extinctions

· Conserving Species and Populations / Consequences of Small Populations

· Conservation Planning, Priorities, and Management (Protected Areas)

· Conservation Outside Protected Areas

· Sustainable Development

· From Conservation Theory to Practice


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 a

published paper from the primary literature.


Required Text


Sodhi N.S., and Ehrlich P.R. (eds.) (2010). Conservation Biology for All.

Oxford University Press Inc., New York, U.S.A. (Available online)


Required journal articles will be provided to students before the field



Other Important Books on Conservation Biology



Primack R.B. (2012). A Primer of Conservation Biology (5th ed.). Sinauer

Associates Inc., Sunderland, MA, U.S.A.


Primack R.B. (2010). Essentials of Conservation Biology (5th ed.). Sinauer

Associates Inc., Sunderland, MA, U.S.A.


Van Dyke F. (2008). Conservation Biology - Foundations, Concepts,

Applications (2nd ed.). Springer, Dordrecht, Netherlands.


Group Field Projects and Exercises. These are research or instructional

projects designed by the faculty and will be worked on by students in small

groups (3-4 individuals). When appropriate, all data will be pooled at the

end of an assignment creating a class dataset. The purpose of these

projects is for students to gain experience with sampling techniques and

equipment commonly used in conservation ecology fieldwork. For each

project, students will be expected to collect data, analyze data (when

appropriate), and write a report. Each small group of students will be

expected to present the results of one project orally to the class. There

will be 3-6 group projects.


Individual Research Projects. Each student will be responsible for

designing and completing an original research project, which may deal with

any topic in conservation. In consultation with the instructor, students

will chose their research topic, drawing from experiences during groups

projects, lectures, and readings. By the beginning of the second week,

students will be expected to submit a written proposal to the instructor for

evaluation in terms of conceptual validity, experimental design, and

feasibility (available time). Students will analyze their data and write up

their findings in scientific journal format (using the journal Conservation

Biology as a template), as well as orally present their findings to the

class. All reports must be completed before leaving Bocas del Toro.


Grading. 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

attendance at lectures, exams, reports, proposals, as well as by more

subjective criteria such as personal attitude, motivation, and contribution

to the course. The instructor will provide a break-down of points earned and

final letter grade to your academic institution. The student is to provide

direct evidence of participation such as syllabus, schedules, handouts,

lecture notes, proposals, reports, etc. Please arrange for credit through

your department or academic advisor. Contact ITEC for details.




Day 1 Arrive via flight from Panama City.


Day 2 Orientation with the station and trail system, lecture.


Day 3-8 Group research projects, proposals, lectures.


Day 9-16 Individual research, lectures.


Day 11-12 Optional field trip to Vocan Barú cloud forests.


Day 17-19 Analysis and write-up of individual research, lectures.


Day 20 Oral presentation of individual research, party.


Day 21 Return home.



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 first hand. 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 National Park.

Several stops will be made in route.


COURSE LENGTH: ITEC Winter field courses are about three weeks in length.

The TCE W-13 will run from December 20, 2013 through January 9, 2014.


TUITION: $1850 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.


REGISTRATION DEADLINE: November 20, 2013. 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.


CONTACT: Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation, 2911 NW 40th PL,

Gainesville, FL 32605, phone: 352-367-9128, email: juliehelsongmail.com, web:

http://www.itec-edu.org. ITEC is a 501©(3) non-profit organization founded

in 1996.

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