Natural History of Costa Rica

Instructors: Dr. Stanley Sessions and Dr. Peter Fauth

The goal of this course is to introduce students to tropical biodiversity and its conservation in Central America. Participants live and study at biology field research stations in tropical rain forests, cloud forests and dry forests on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides of Costa Rica. Most activity centers on observing communities of organisms (their population densities, feeding, movement, reproductive and other interactions) in their natural environment. Emphasis is placed on vertebrates including mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. The course also examines invertebrates and a huge variety of plants. In addition, participants visit volcanoes, museums, national parks, and historical sites. The course also includes a tour of the University of Costa Rica, with talks on biological, environmental and political-social issues.

Here students are located at the field station at La Selva, exploring a lowland tropical rain forest on the Atlantic side of Costa Rica. This was followed by a cross-country trip to the Pacific side, stopping for one or two days at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Another week was then spent at the Organization for Tropical Studies field station at Palo Verde in the Providence of Guanacaste in northern Costa Rica.

Read about our academic adventures in Costa Rica in 2008 (download pdf document).