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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 and surrounded by lowland tropical wet forests.

Coral reef, sea grass and mangrove ecosystems lie adjacent to the station

and limestone caves, rocky intertidal shores and beaches are accessible from

the station. The juxtaposition of the two most biologically diverse

ecosystems provides tremendous opportunities for education and research in

animal behavior. See: http://itec-edu.org/tropical-animal-behavior/, for



INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Peter N. Lahanas, Institute for Tropical Ecology and

Conservation, 2911 NW 40th PL, Gainesville, FL 32605, 352-367-9128

, lahanas@itec-edu.org

. Specialty: Neotropical herpetology, forest

ecology, animal behavior, biogeography, molecular genetics of sea turtles.


COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course will emphasize animal behavior in the

context of tropical rain forest and marine ecosystems. The material covered

is equivalent to a university upper level course in animal behavior. The

course is divided into three parts. During the first few days students will

become familiar with the many ecosystems found in our area and with the

trail systems during ³orientation². The bulk of the first 10 days will be

spent learning field techniques in animal behavior and carrying out various

group projects or exercises (see below). Midway through the course the

entire station community embarks on a 3-day field trip to the cloud forests

of Boquete (see details below). On returning to the field station, students

work on their individual research projects and continue to receive lectures

or other activities in the evening. Students are encouraged to work with

either terrestrial or marine organisms.


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

include the use of PowerPoint presentations and chalkboard. Lectures will

generally be given in the evening so that more daylight hours can be spent

in the field. Lecture topics will include:


o Station policies, forest etiquette

o Animal behavior, an overview

o Behavioral research design

o Neotropical ecosystems and structure

o Behavioral sampling methods

o Neotropical amphibians and reptiles

o Neotropical birds

o Neotropical mammals

o Mating systems

o Plant-animal interactions, symbioses

o Evolution of polymorphism in poison dart frogs

o Conservation issues


Informal Lectures. Informal lectures will be provided periodically during

orientation walks, during group field projects or in discussion groups.

These will cover a wide variety of topics and will generally be prompted by

what we encounter in the field, or by the direction taken during group



Readings. Readings corresponding to lecture subjects will be assigned in

the texts. We will also read and critique papers brought by students and

faculty and additional readings may be assigned from time to time. In

addition, each student will read, critique, and provide oral reports on

published papers brought to Bocas.


Required Text Books:

Martin, P. & P. Bateson (1993). Measuring Behaviour, Cambridge

University Press, 222, pg, ISBN: 0 521 44614 7.


Lehner, Philip N. (1998). Handbook of Ethological Methods, 2nd ed.,

Cambridge University Press, 672 pp, ISBN: 0 521 63750 3.


Kricher, J.C. (1999). A Neotropical Companion. 2nd. ed., Princeton

University Press, Princeton., ISBN: 0 691 00974 0.


Field Book. A field book will be required in the course. The field book

will contain all data related to group projects and independent research

project. The field book should also contain all other incidental

observations such as species lists, behavioral notes, etc., and contain

detailed location information. The field book must be waterproof and either

pencil or waterproof ink used to record data.


Group Field Projects, Exercises, Demonstrations & Excursions.

Group projects designed by the faculty and worked on in groups of four or

six students. The purpose of these projects is to familiarize students with

an array of field sampling techniques and equipment commonly used in field

studies. With help from a faculty member, students set up projects, collect

data, and generally (depends on the project), analyze data, present the

results to the class, and write a report.


Group Project, Demonstration and Excursion Topics

o Behavioral sampling methods

o Ethogram exercise

o Ecological sampling methods

o Forest night hikes

o Homing behavior in poison-dart frog

o Tail flicking behavior in geckos

o Soropta Beach, nesting leatherback sea turtles

o Lekking in golden-collared manakins

o Cave ecology, bats behavior

o Soropta canal, iguanas, caimans and crocodiles

o Resource partitioning in frog breeding colonies

o Tree Canopy Access Techniques


Individual Research Projects. Working closely with faculty, students will be

responsible for designing and completing an original animal behavior

research project of their choosing. These projects will be carried out

during the second half of the course and students will have about 10 days

for data collection. A few days before the end of the course students will

analyze their data, write a technical report, prepare a PowerPoint

presentation of their work and orally present their findings at a

station-wide symposium on the last day of the course.


BOQUETE CLOUD FOREST FIELD TRIP: This three-day field trip takes place

midway through the course and will allow students the opportunity to

experience tropical cloud and seasonal forests. We travel in ITEC boats to

the mainland and then by private bus to the town of 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 remote Palo Seco National Park.

Several stops will be made in route.


COURSE LENGTH: ITEC Summer field courses are about four weeks in length.

The TAB W-14 will run from June 15 through July 10, 2014.


TUITION: $2150 USD. Tuition fee includes all instruction, 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



REGISTRATION DEADLINE: June 10, 2014. The course is limited to 10 students

and applications will be evaluated as they arrive. If you believe that your

application may arrive late, notify ITEC.


GRADING and COURSE 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, reports, proposals, attendance at lectures, as well

as by less tangibles such as personal attitude, motivation, and contribution

to the course. Course credit must be arranged at the student's institution.

Contact ITEC for details.


APPLICATIONS can be found at:



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.






Peter N. Lahanas, Ph.D.

Executive Director


Institute for Tropical Ecology

and Conservation (ITEC)

2911 NW 40th Place

Gainesville, FL 32605, USA


phn: 352-367-9128

web: http://www.itec-edu.org


In Panama: 011-507-6853-2134



Bocas del Toro Biological Station

Boca del Drago, Isla Colon, Panama

Field Station Manager, Enrique Dixon


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