The USFSM Biology Program provides an exciting research opportunity in Costa Rica! Students will be able to pursue research in a variety of tropical ecosystems. Immerse yourself in the rainforest to experience first-hand the concepts of biodiversity, ecology, and conservation while conducting field research at the research stations of the Organization of Tropical Studies. Students will perform research utilizing the extensive trails at La Selva in a lowland tropical rainforest habitat and then travel south to Las Cruces to experience a pre-montane habitat.
Students will explore the rainforests of Costa Rica to develop questions, hypotheses, and pilot studies on topics of interest to them. Past projects examined topics that included bioluminescent fungi, caterpillar food choices, rainforest snail diversity, microhabitats of fungi, fluorescent lichens and ethnobotany.
Field workshops on butterfly and bat research will be held at the Tirimbina Preserve and there will be tours at a wildlife rescue ranch and a coffee plantation. Talks will be presented on the traditional preparation of chocolate and the use of plants for medicinal purposes.
Students also will visit the Boruca indigenous community where they participate in obtaining dyes from plants and see the artisan crafts of weaving and the carving of elaborate masks utilized in traditional festivals.
The course has stateside and in-country components and is conducted during Session B. The component during which the group will be in Costa Rica is from June 25 until July 09, 2019.
This course will take place at two of the three field stations operated by the Organization for Tropical Studies in Costa Rica. La Selva is located in the Caribbean lowlands in northern Costa Rica and consists of tropical wet forests averaging 4 meters of rainfall annually. Four major tropical life zones are represented with more than 5000 species of vascular plants, over 400 species of resident and migratory birds, thousands of arthropods and the large predators include jaguars and pumas. The Las Cruces Biological Field Station is located in southern Costa Rica. Las Cruces has 326 hectares with ~200 hectares as primary forest. Classified as a tropical premontane wet forest it receives an average of 40 cm of rainfall/year. Located 1,200 m above sea level it boasts pleasant temperatures from 70-80oF during the day and low 60’s at night. Las Cruces has more than 1000 genera in over 200 plant families that can be seen along the trails. This station is also home to the Robert and Catherine Wilson Botanical Garden which showcases an international collection of plants that was established in 1962.
The USFSM Research Experience Abroad is utilizing the biological research stations of the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS)
in Costa Rica. The La Selva Biological Station is located in the northern lowlands and the Las Cruces Biological Station is in southern Costa Rica near the Panamanian border. The OTS stations have housing and dining facilities, classrooms, laboratory facilities, libraries, herbariums to facilitate field research projects. The laboratories are outfitted with basic equipment and supplies for processing and evaluating specimens collected and internet access is available in the classrooms, labs and housing. Students will perform research utilizing the extensive and well-marked trails at La Selva in a tropical rainforest habitat and then travel south to Las Cruces to experience a pre-montane habitat.
Who Can Participate
Students should have a satisfactory 2.5 GPA.
Enrollment is limited to USFSM students and will be opened to other USF students before the final deadline.
How to Apply
Detailed information on How to Apply can be found here.