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Tropical Avian Ecology - Summer Field course

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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 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

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.


· 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 watcher¹s
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
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
http://www.itec-edu.org/> . ITEC is a 501©(3) non-profit organization
founded in 1996.

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