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Field Course in Ecology and Conservation Biology, Panamá

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This field course is not yet posted on ITEC's pages, but will be soon.


Field Course in Ecology and Conservation Biology


Focus – Island Biogeography and birds as model animals for learning to use statistical tools to analyze animal abundance, within the context of the Bocas del Toro Archipelago.


Instructor – James J. Roper (jjroper AT gmail.com, and http://sites.google.com/site/jjroper/)


Dates: 23 July to 9 August 2012


Details: We are offering a multi-cultural field course that will start with training the student in the local avifauna of the island of Colon, in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago, AND, the using three very useful and interesting statistical programs for studying animal diversity and abundance – EstimateS, PRESENCE and DISTANCE (all free programs that you can download and install prior to the course). We will quickly put those tools to work on the island where we will carry out many transects in different habitats to apply those data to the use of these programs. To do so, we will divide ourselves into smaller teams so that we may cover more ground. We will then proceed to other islands (once we are all up to running speed) and do several transects on as many islands as possible. We will close the course by combining these data into a coherent and interesting study of diversity and abundance of these birds on the island, putting this into a context of island biogeography. Additional statistical analysis may use the program R, and within it, the BiodiversityR package (also free). Throughout the study, we will use the relevant literature and have many discussions about the theory and application of these ideas. Prior to the course, the instructor will communicate with the students providing a list of reading, mostly PDF files that can be shared among those in the course.


Who can take the course? Clearly the course will be somewhat advanced, so students who wish to take the course should have already taken at least one course in statistics, and be interested in learning birds (while the methods can be applied to a whole variety of taxa, birds are probably the easiest models to use in a quick field course). In addition to graduate students, we will consider advanced undergraduate students who can convince the instructor with a well-written objective letter that they deserve to take the course. Also, as we feel as an institute that it is very important to have cross-cultural interactions while studying conservation and ecology in a tropical environment, Spanish and Portuguese speaking students are welcome to attend. Clearly, if everybody speaks some English, and some Portuguese or Spanish, communication will be much easier. The instructor, Jim Roper (Ph.D.), is fluent in all three languages, and wants to carry out this experiment in a multicultural multispecies interaction. We will work together to develop teams that will combine their interests and skills so that all teams work well together and have a fascinating time learning.


Costs: See the web site for tuition rates. Students from Central and South America, who attend shools in Central and South America, and are accepted for the course, will all receive the same scholarship – the course at half price. By this scholarship, we recognize that with the exchange rate and local economies being what they are, this scholarship pursues our goals and interests in collaborating with students in these countries and contributing to the general state of education and conservation. Also, because we will be going to the islands as often as possible, we will have a small surcharge of $5 from each student for each boat trip.


Additional information: Please get in contact with Jim Roper (jjroper AT gmail.com, and http://sites.google.com/site/jjroper/) with any questions. Please read over the web pages at ITEC as well to better understand the field station and situation in Panamá.

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  • 1 month later...

The web page for the field course is now up: http://www.itec-edu.org/spanishbird.html and also see the main ITEC pages for more information (http://www.itec-edu.org/).


Also, note that this is a 3 (not 4) week field course, and so costs a less.


If you have any questions please write!



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