Jump to content
Ornithology Exchange (brought to you by the Ornithological Council)

Field Course in Tropical Animal Behavior (July 15-August 9)

Recommended Posts






COURSE LOCATION: Bocas del Toro Biological Station, Boca del Drago, Isla Colon, Republic of Panama. The biological station is located on a beach facing the Caribbean Sea. Coral reef and seagrass ecosystems lie out in front of the station and lowland tropical rain forests lie directly behind. This juxtaposition of the two most biologically diverse ecosystems provides tremendous opportunities for education and research. See Panama: http://www.itec-edu.org/index.html for details.


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 ecosystem. 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 "orientation" walks. The bulk of the first 10 days will be spent learning field techniques and carrying out various group projects or exercises (see below). Midway through the course the entire station community takes a 3-day field trip to 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.


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:

  • Station policies, forest etiquette
  • Animal behavior, an overview
  • Behavioral research design
  • Neotropical ecosystems and structure
  • Behavioral sampling methods
  • Neotropical amphibians and reptiles
  • Neotropical birds
  • Neotropical mammals
  • Mating systems
  • Plant-animal interactions, symbioses
  • Evolution of polymorphism in poison dart frogs
  • 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 discussions.


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 Texts:

Martin, P. & P. Bateson (1993). Measuring Behaviour, Cambridge University Press, 222 pg, ISBN 0 521 44614 7.

Kricher, J.C. (1997). A Neotropical Companion. 2nd. ed. Princeton University Press, Princeton.


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 water-proof and either pencil or water-proof ink used to record data.


Group Field Projects, Exercises, Demonstrations and 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

  • Behavioral sampling methods
  • Ethogram exercise
  • Ecological sampling methods
  • Forest night hikes
  • Homing behavior in poison-dart frog
  • Tail flicking behavior in geckos
  • Soropta Beach, nesting leatherbacks
  • Lekking in golden-collared manakins
  • Cave ecology, bats behavior
  • Soropta canal, Iguanas, caimans and crocodiles
  • Resource partitioning in frog breeding colonies
  • Marine turtle nesting behavior

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 assemblages of amphibians and reptiles found in 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 four weeks in length. The TAB C-11 will run from July 15 through August 9, 2012.


TUITION: $2050 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: May 15, 2012. The course is limited to 15 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.


CONTACT: Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation, 2911 NW 40th PL, Gainesville, FL 32605, 352-367-9128, itec@itec-edu.org, http://www.itec-edu.org/index.html.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...