Field Studies:  Tropical Ecology:  BIOL or ENV 38000 (cross-listed course)

Spring 2007

Instructors: Dr. Susan Allen-Gil
Office Contact: 274-1066,
Office Hurs:  Tuesdays 2-4:00 p.m.

This course will meet once a week during the semester, and 
will include a 9-day trip to Costa Rica 
May 15 - May 23
Additional course fee of approximately $1800 for the international travel 
(includes all transportation, food and lodging). 

Course Description: This course will examine the structure and function of tropical ecosystems.  We will explore the unique characteristics of a variety of forests types (cloud forests, rainforests, and dry tropical forests), coastal systems (mangrove swamps and coral reefs) to gain an appreciation for the incredible biodiversity these ecosystems support.  The course will familiarize students with the plants, birds, and mammals that inhabit these ecosystems.  We will also explore the anthropogenic threats to these ecosystems, including overharvesting of natural resources, population growth, industrialized agriculture and tourism.

WebCT will be used for assignments, readings, etc.

Lecture Schedule (PDF)
Kricher, J. 1997. A Neotropical Companion. An Introduction to the animals, plants, and ecosystems of the New World Tropics.  Princeton University Press.  ISBN: 0691009740
Forsyth, A. and Miyata, K. 1984. Tropical Nature: Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central and South America. Simon and Shuster, New York. ISBN: 0684187108
Allen, W. 2001.  Green Phoenix. Restoring the Tropical Forests of Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Oxford University Press.  ISBN: 0195161777
Lonely Planet.  Latin American Spanish.  Lonely Planet Publishers. ISBN: 17405917004.

1 blank bound book for all your work for the semester.

On –Campus Portion:

The purpose of the on-campus portion of the course is for you to become familiarized with tropical ecosystems and the human activities that impact these ecosystems, and the culture and politics of Costa Rica.  During each class period, we will spend some time practicing tourist Spanish in mock settings and the rest of the class time learning about these ecosystems by reading and discussing a combination of primary scientific, popular and travel literature.

In order for us all to get the most out of this course (and trip!), we need to assemble a team of experts.  Each students will select and “area of expertise” and will serve the class as a resident expert.  We need herpetologists, ornithologists, botanists, mammalogists and entomologists.  We also some people who are experts in resource management: specifically, we need water management specialists, forest management specialists, and agronomists (agriculture specialists).  Your area of expertise will form the basis of a term paper, which will form one chapter in the book we will write as a class.

For each class, a number of readings will be assigned.  As you read them, make notes in your books for discussion during class.  These notebooks will be collected randomly for assessment.

Costa Rica Field Trip:
We will be going to Costa Rica as part of a college tour arranged by EFT.  This will include site visits to volcanoes, cloud forests, wet rainforests, dry forests, and coastal ecosystems.  You are expected to follow all rules of EFT.  Additionally, your behavior reflects on yourself, me, and Ithaca College.  I expect you to behave accordingly.  Any violations of Ithaca College’s code of student conduct will result in immediate expulsion from the trip.

EFT has arranged all our travel, including air travel, lodging, food, and site visits.  You will want to bring some spending money, but all your basic expenses will be included in the fee you pay to EFT prior to departure.

Consistent class attendance is expected.  Class participation is a vital part of this course.    If you miss more than two class periods during the on-campus portion, five points will be deducted from you final grade for each additional unexcused class period missed.

The trip to Costa Rica is a REQUIREMENT of the course.  You will receive either an F or an INCOMPLETE if you do not participate in this trip.

Evaluation: In Costa Rica, we will have group meeting every morning and every evening (30-90 minutes).  In the morning, experts will review for us whatever information you presented during the on-campus portion of the course.  In the evening, we will discuss what else we learned from the site visit.

Each student will maintain a trip journal in their bound book.  These will be turned into me on a rotating basis for my review.  Occasionally, I will ask you to answer a question in your journal

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Last updated on 1/10/07