GEO/LAS/IES/GLG 412/512: Tropical Ecosystems of Costa Rica Syllabus

Biodiversity Explorations in the Neotropics---Visit the COSTA RICA IMAGE COLLECTION!

R. Hays Cummins / Miami University

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GEO/LAS/IES/GLG 412/512: 5-6 Credit Hours

Jan 2-Jan 24, 2020

Purpose: To better understand the astonishing diversity of tropical ecosystems. Students in this course work together to investigate the ecology and cultures of Neotropical ecosystems: how they were formed and how they are changing.

We will explore in 2020 :

Prerequisites: One course in the natural sciences and instructor permission. Limited scholarships are available. Course costs: tuition (5 hours credit) + ~$3500 (room and board) + airfare.

For info: Contact Dr. Hays Cummins, 513-529-1338

Miami Plan Principles

The Costa Rica course addressed these Miami Plan principles:

  • Critical Thinking and Understanding Contexts- Each and every day, students are challenged in the field and in the classroom to connect what they see and experience with what we read in the literature. The field component is the third dimension of challenging what students think they know with what they read and finally get to see for themselves. The hub of the field course is student-generated research. Student research teams develop, with peer review, their own research questions and methodologies. The responsibility for the success of the project lies almost entirely on the student research team's imaginations and their willingness to recognize failure. These failures can be used as opportunities to grow as scholars. Project success is judged not so much by the final results but rather by students' abilities to deal with the unknowns inherent in all research. Understanding Contexts will be promoted by continually questioning conventional wisdom and agenda-driven hypothesis testing (control of the answer by control of the question). Throughout the course, students will be asked to retain multiple working hypotheses rather than engage in a defense of a single solution. Students will be asked to question and challenge assumptions. Retaining multiple and seemingly contradictory (and controversial) observations or ideas is a challenge. In addition, Costa Rica tropical ecology will be explored as part of a continuum of ecology - an interacting ecology that embraces terrestrial, biochemical and geochemical systems as well as human value systems. Our value-driven choices affect tropical ecosystems. What we do and don't do matters.
  • Engaging with Other Learners-Tropical Ecosystems of Costa Rica is an intense, all day in the field and late evenings in the classroom course. Students live and learn together. We explore and research tropical forests, sea turtle nesting beaches, tropical lagoons, cloud forests, land-use, intertidal zones, local conservation, and other aspects of interdisciplinary tropical ecology and geologic science. The hub of the course is student-centered research projects in our field laboratory. All projects are student generated. The instructors are the facilitators. All group projects are peer reviewed including the beginning research idea, project methodology and the project proposal. Once each project has been peer critiqued and formally approved, only then will the field research begin. The final night of the field experience culminates with a Bahamas Natural History Symposium where students present the findings of their field research. All of these activities require an immense amount of cooperation, team work and engaging with other learners.
  • Reflecting and Acting- Students are taken out of the classroom and into the field in a foreign country. The experience can be disorienting and challenging. For many students, this field course is the very first time that they actually connect the literature (based on course readings) with their own field observations. This synergy typically ignites our class discussions and facilitates the transition to students generating their own research questions. Students become active learners!

    Student Outcomes

    Here are a few expected student outcomes:

  • Students, regardless of major, will do self-directed inquiry
  • Students will read and discuss scientific literature and culturally based perspectives
  • Students will place their research within a broader, global context. How does their research correspond to what other researchers have done?
  • Students will connect their own field observations with the literature on a daily basis through class discussion
  • Students will compile a daily journal. The journal will detail field observations and syntheses on a daily basis.
  • Students will work in groups and experience the value of team-work

    So,....What does this course count for?

    Tropical Ecosystems of Costa Rica counts for:

  • EITHER GEO, LAS, IES, or GLG credit
  • Three hours of Zoology credit
  • Tier 2 Honors Credit
  • Environmental Science Co-Major Synthesis Credit
  • Environmental Principles & Practice Co-Major Field Course Credit
  • Elective Credit (speak with your academic advisor)

    Be Sure to Visit:

    Hays' BEST Tropical Ecosystems of Costa Rica IMAGES and MOVIES

    Tropical Marine Ecology IMAGES

    Table of Contents

    Course Description

    Scientists equate the rapid loss of species due to human activities in the modern era to the massive extinction events evident in the geologic record. However, these two types of extinction events differ in important ways. In the extinction event in which we now live, humans make decisions about which species to save. We also decide, explicitly or implicitly, which species will go extinct. How well do we understand this process? On what will we base our decisions? Understanding and formulating solutions to modern extinctions is the central concern of the field of biodiversity, a discipline that requires skills in the natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities.

    Tropical ecosystems are critical reservoirs of biodiversity.In Tropical Ecosystems of Costa Rica, we will explore issues of biodiversity in lowland rain forests, premontane rain forests, cloud forests, a volcanic ecosystem, mangroves, and marine environments.[Here is a Mangrove Species Endemic to Costa Rica & Panama! ] Using an integrated perspective, we will gain an appreciation for the diversity of Neotropical ecosystems: how they were formed and how they are changing.

    An intensive lecture schedule will be combined with first-hand field experiences, individual projects, and group investigations emphasizing research methods in tropical systems. Topics to be covered in depth include tropical ecology, the geology of Costa Rica, Pre-Columbian to modern patterns of land use, indigenous patterns of land use by the Bri Bri, and the statistical analysis of field data.

    Other Important Course-Related Websites + Links

    Compliments of Graphic Maps

    Other Web Pages with Costa Rica Course information include a Costa Rica Course Starting Point (Contains links to other course info), the Costa Rica LISTserve, Costa Rica Course Images and Movies, and Costa Rica Streaming Videos.

    Banana Plantations supply many jobs to Costa Ricans. Yet, one plantation destroys many square kilometers of rainforest. An important, timeless question: How do we balance human needs with conservation?

    There will be three main sites of instruction:

    Our course will start in the unique cloud forests of Monteverde in North-central Costa Rica. It is the perfect location to begin our studies. Here, will will take night and day hikes to the many diversified habitats within the preserve. We will begin class discussions based upon the assigned readings and also give you your research project questions. We will visit the Santa Elena Preserve where we will have an elevated view of the cloud forest canopy on their skywalk. Then we trek to Arenal volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the world!

    In Las Palmas in Southwest Costa Rica, we will study mangroves and lowland rain forests: their present day ecology as well as patterns exploitation in the past and present. We will draw on visits to Pre-Columbian archaeological sites, to an abandoned banana plantation, to oil palm cooperatives, to a mangrove community and to an island cemetery of an indigenous people in order to piece together the ecology of the region and its history of human impact. We will also stay in Corcovado, a biological reserve that contains one of Central America's most important tracts of virgin rain forest. Here we will also study the role of plate tectonics and volcanism in producing the extraordinary floristic and climatic diversity of the Neotropics. This will include discussion of the importance of elevation gradients and of the large-scale biogeography of two centers of biotic diversity.

    We will also visit Gandoca, in Southeast Costa Rica, and visit a nesting site of leatherback turtles, the world's largest living reptile, weighing up to 2,000 pounds. The Gandoca-Manzanillo wildlife refuge and surrounding area on the Caribbean coast, includes a nine-kilometer crescent-shaped beach, lowland rain forest, and indigenous reserves of the Bribri. We will explore indigenous ways of relating to the land and the challenges brought about by change. Final results of field studies, student presentations, and the final exam will also take place here.

    Approx. costs: tuition + ~$3500 (room, board, travel in CR) + airfare (~$550)

    A map of Costa Rica

    Return Home

    GLG 412/512- Course Economics

    Important Course Forms



    Rm & Board

    Out-of-State Fees-(If applicable)


    5 hours

    $To be determiined-UG

    $To be determiined-Grad

    ~$3500 ~~$1465.15

    Important Course Related Forms

    There are numerous forms to turn in. They include: a registration form, health forms, waivers, Certificate of Medical Insurance Coverage, emergency medical contact, Student Travel Release, etc. These forms must be completed (you can't enroll without them!) including obtaining an HTH medical insurance card. Card. PICK U P YOUR COURSE FORM PACKET from Dr. HAYS CUMMINS, JEANNE JOHNSTON, or DR. DONNA MCCOLLUM

    Satellite Photo

    For the Latest Satellite Photograph of our Hemisphere, Bounce HERE. Look for the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ): You will get to know it well in Costa Rica! The heavier precipitation is designated by the brighter colors.

    Interested in the Weather? Visit a Comprehensive Weather Site. Includes maps, text forecasts, satellite photos and movies, computer models, and hurricanes!

    Visit the Monteverde Climate Lecture Image webpage used in a lecture from the Global Climate Change Course


    We will have two texts for the course: (1) Tropical Ecosystems of Costa Rica, a course reader consisting of recent articles pertaining to tropical ecology, conservation, geology, and land use. It will be available at the Oxford Copy Shop on April 15; and (2) a wonderful book A Neotropical Companion: An Introduction to the Animals, Plants, and Ecosystems of the New World Tropics available at local bookstores. Readings will be assigned on a daily basis during the course. Please finish the text A Neotropical Companion before the course begins!

    Poison Dart Frogs are abundant in Corcovado National Park.


    Now that I have your attention, please visit The"Don't leave Home Without It List."

     Presentation Topic (Sign-up Here)
  • View Pre-Course Topic Outlines
  • View Pre-Course Paper Submissions
     Field Journal  
     Naturalist Essays  
    Research Paper (completed prior to arrival in CR)

    Discovery-Oriented Research Projects (View "typical" Field Research Topics)

    • Idea Development
    • Experimental Design
    • Data Analysis
    • Synthesis

    Graduate & Honors Student Post-trip Research Paper

     Directed Ecosystem Challenges  
     Final Exam  
     Total Points  

    Division of Labor-Undergraduates, Graduate Students and Teachers:

    Our course will have undergraduates and graduate students enrolled. All students will complete a Field Journal, in-country bio-challenges, lead discussions, and share their group research findings during our annual Costa Rica Research Symposium. Graduate students, Honors students fulfilling Tier 2 requirements, undergraduates receiving zoology credit, and Undergraduate Summer Scholars (USS) have some additional, unique requirements beyond those of many undergraduates.

    Undergraduates-- Honors students fulfilling Tier 2 requirements, undergraduates receiving zoology credit, and Undergraduate Summer Scholars (USS) will complete every aspect of the course including the post-field course research synthesis paper. Other undergraduates will complete all aspects of the course except the post-field course research paper

    Honors students, students receiving zoology credit, Undergraduate Summer Scholars (USS), and Graduate Students: Upon your return to the United States, you will be expected to write up a final research report on your In-country Costa Rica Research Project. Your paper should include a bibliography, a synopsis of your research question, your experimental design and field methods, your data, statistical analyses and graphs, discussion, conclusions and recommendations for further research.

    A Note from Your Fearless Leaders

    Quicktime Video--Click on Image! A visit to the fantastic Sirena Field Station in Corcovado National Park

    Hello Costa Rica Ecology Folks!

    We're looking forward to our course. To do a good job in your 15-20 minute presentation, you will need to hit the library and WWW well ahead of time. We will use the World Wide Web as our Discussion Feedback Central. You can see what other students are talking about and we expect that you will submit suggestions on other peoples topics as well! In the selection of a topic, besides submitting a title, include a synopsis of your discussion topic. What do you plan on teaching the class? Why do you feel your topic is important? Include an outline of your talk and at least 5 references! I will provide feedback(everyone is welcome to contribute suggestions) via the web.

    The time line for completion is:

    -By Mar 15, 2012. Topic Selection, Paragraph, Outline, and Sources. First-Come, First-Served!

    -April 1, 2012. Final Submission: Rewrite after having received feedback.

    -May 15, 2012. Final Paper Posting. A five page paper on your discussion topic.

  • View Pre-Course Topic Outlines
  • View Pre-Course Paper Submissions

    Let us know if we can help in any way. And, if you haven't done so yet, check out the Trop Ecosystems of Costa Rica Image Web Page. You'll get a taste of what's in store!

    Hays and Donna


    Things to Do Before the Course Begins!

    Listen to a "vocal intro" to the "Tropical Ecosystems of Costa Rica " Syllabus Page (Quicktime: or MP3)

    The Sequence of Events

    Things to Do Before the Course Begins!- Spring Semseter

    • Select a presentation topic and post a discussion outline (undergraduates and graduate students).
    • A five page paper, with sources, that is developed from the foundation provided by your presentation topic.
    • You must have finished reading The Neotropical Companion
    • Readings will be assigned from the Reading List before the course begins. Each particular assignment can be found at our "Costa Rica Assignment & Discussion Web Site. You will keep a "readings journal" where you will write your thoughts and reflections on each article. Bring this journal with you on the course!

    The Costa Rica Field Experience(5/13-5/28)

    • Give 100% to the experience (attitude, participation, discussions, field journal, and your research experience). All students will complete a Field Journal, in-country bio-challenges, lead discussions, and share their group research findings during our annual Costa Rica Research Symposium.

    Things to do after your return from the Costa Rica

    • Upon your return to the United States, all students will complete work on your Field Journal. In addition, all graduate students, Honors Students, studenst receiving zoology credit, and Undergraduate Summer Scholars (USS) will write up a final research report on your In-country Costa Rica Research Project. Your paper should include a bibliography, a synopsis of your research question, your experimental design and field methods, your data, statistical analyses and graphs, discussion, conclusions and recommendations for further research.

    There are several tasks to complete prior to arriving in Costa Rica. First, you must select a presentation topic and post a discussion outline (see below) to the Web. This is followed by the completion of (2)a five page paper, with sources,that is developed from the foundation provided by your presentation topic. And last, (3) you must have finished reading A Neotropical Companion prior to arriving in Costa Rica.

    Student-Led Discussion/Presentation Topics & Research Paper (First-Come, First Served)

    As part of our course expectations, each student will present a 15-20 minute talk on a tropical ecology topic of your choice during the course. These presentations will be in the evenings or at lunch time. We expect you to research a topic of interest to you and share what you know with the class. Topics can include, but are not restricted to, anything related to tropical ecology. Some topic ideas include land use, agriculture, climate change, conservation, plants (epiphytes, emergent trees, palms, understory plants); processes (predation in tropical rain forests, competition, nutrient cycling, mutualism), hydroelectric power, conservation, plate tectonics and volcanism in the Neotropics, indigenous peoples, coral reefs in Costa Rica, mangrove ecosystems, deforestation, species loss, or specific species or family studies on reptiles, amphibians, birds, or other specific organisms (e.g., monkeys, bats, sloths, lizards, parrots, fresh water fish, mollusks, butterflies and moths) or other topics addressing biodiversity and sustainability (the national park system, economy and sustainability in Costa Rica, soil types, cattle ranching, the timber industry, environmentalism, medicinal plants). Do not be constrained by these suggestions! Let your interests lead the way. Priority for presentation topics will be on a first-come, first served basis.

    Research Paper on Discussion Topic


    A pre-course presentation topic paper (minimum 5 pages plus references)building upon the foundation provided by your discussion topic, is due by 5/15/07 (hard copy). The paper should be posted to the web by 5/10/10. Sign-up via the Discussion Feedback Web Page If you have questions, please e-mail or phone Hays at 513-529-1338.

    Posting Steps:

    Post Discussion/Paper Topic Idea and Outline By 3/15/10

    Receive Feedback and Resubmit Revised Outline By 4/1/10

    Post Final Pre-Course Presentation Paper Posting By 5/10/10

    If you are ready, you can INPUT YOUR TOPIC OUTLINE or Pre-Course PAPER Here!

    Look at previous years' submissions:

    Field Course Discussions/Presentations-2008, '07, '06, '05,'04,'03,'02,'01,'00, '99 and '98

     Discussion Topic Submissions:

     Search for Topics Entered....

  • Marine Ecology 2003

    Tropical Ecosystems of Costa Rica 2004

  • Tropical Ecosystems of Costa Rica 2003
  •  since I last checked
     in the last 3 days
     in the last week
     in the last month
     in the last 2 months

    Preliminary SAMPLE Itinerary:

    May 17

    Arrive San José, Costa Rica
    Guest lecture: An Overview of Costa Rica
    Overnight at Hotel Parque del Lago

    May 20 Instruction Site 1: Monteverde & Santa Elena Preserve
    Learn more about the Monteverde Area
    by visiting this web site!

    Transfer to Monteverde, afternoon & night hike
    AM& PM Lectures: Tropical Forest Ecology Introduction
    Plate Tectonics
    Student Presentations and Research Projects-realities & expectations

    Monteverde Preserve: North-Central Costa Rica

    The Monteverde Preserve Triangle Loop Trail. We will be housed at the entrance to the preserve.

    May 21
    6:30 Breakfast
    Full day hiking Monteverde Trails

    AM and PM Lectures:
    The Climatology of Cloud Forests
    Climate Regimes of Tropical systems
    Tropical Forests I: Forest Formations of Costa Rica
    Environmental Gradient Analysis
    A Closer look at Tropical Cloud Forests

    Night Hike, Student Presentations and Research Projects

    May 22
    6:30 Breakfast
    Santa Elena Preserve Canopy Skywalk, Naturalist Essay
    Transfer to Arenal Volcano

    AM and PM Lectures::
    Igneous geology
    Island geology and biogeography
    Natural Disturbances and Tropical Biodiversity
    Student Presentations and Research Projects

    May 23

    6:30am Breakfast
    Spectacular Arenal Volcano Day Hike
    Transfer to Parque del Lago

    AM and PM Lectures::
    Disturbance in Tropical Ecosystems
    Biodiversity II
    Student Presentations and Research Projects

    May 24

    7:00am breakfast at Hotel Parque del Lago , bus to Las Palmas
    Introduction to cloud forest at Cerro de la Muerte mountain
    Introduction to lowland forests and Terraba watershed
    Overnight at Vista del Cerro

    AM and PM Lectures::
    Climate Regimes of Tropical Systems
    Tropical Forests 2: Forest Formations of Costa Rica
    Student Presentations and Research Projects

    Note the extremely long antennae. What types of insects are these?

    May 25--Instruction Site 2: Mangroves, Banana Plantations, Indigenous Sites, Drake Bay & Corcovado National Park, Pacific Coast

    May 25

    6:30 breakfast at Vista del Cerro
    Bus to Sierpe river to board boat to mangroves
    Full day in mangrove ecosystems, accompanied by researcher from
    the National Museum of Costa Rica working on Pre-Columbian
    archaeological sites and land use patterns in the tropics
    Overnight at Drake Wilderness Camp

    AM and PM Lectures::
    Mangroves: A Geological Perspective
    Mangroves: An Ecological Perspective
    Archaeological sites of mangrove and lowland Pacific Forests
    Field Methods in Paleoreconstruction land use I: mangrove and lowland Pacific Forests
    Student Presentations and Research Projects

    May 26

    6:30 breakfast at
    Drake Wilderness Camp Beautiful Drake Bay Wilderness Camp near Corcovado National Park on an Amazing Sunny Day! In contrast, the ITCZ can cause some Ferocious Thunderstorms in late May and eraly June!
    Full day in Corcovado National Park
    Dinner and Overnight at Drake Wilderness Camp

    AM and PM Lectures::
    Tropical Forests III: Forest Structure
    Field methods in tropical ecology
    Tropical Forests III: Animals Influencing Plant Communities
    Land Use II: Overview of Deforestation in Neotropical Forests
    Corcovado and the Costa Rican Park System
    Swamp forests
    Student Presentations and Research Projects

    Boa constrictors are relatively common in the lowland rainforests of the Pacific and Caribbean.

    May 27

    6:30 breakfast
    Board boat to Isla del Caño
    Full day at in indigenous cemetery, milk tree forest,
    tide pool and reef ecosystems.
    Dinner and overnight at
    Drake Wilderness Camp

    AM and PM Lectures::
    Indigenous peoples of the Southwest Pacific Region
    Land Use II: The Nature of Managed Systems
    Geological Analysis and Biodiversity of intertidal zones
    Introduction to Tropical reefs
    Tropical Forests III: Islands, Fragments, Gaps
    Student Presentations & Research Projects

    May 28

    6:30 breakfast at Drake Wilderness Camp
    Full day research in Corcovado National Park
    Dinner and Overnight at Drake Wilderness Camp

    AM and PM Lectures::
    Coral Reefs II
    Mangroves: An Ecological Perspective II
    Geological Analysis and Biodiversity of intertidal zones II
    Student Presentations & Research Projects


    We will do astronomy of the Costa Rican night sky using star charts, binoculars, the Voyager program, and our eyes!

    About 10 million stars orbit the center of this globular cluster - named Omega Centauri - as this giant globular cluster orbits the center of our Galaxy. Recent evidence indicates that Omega Centauri is by far the most massive of the about 160 globular clusters in the Milky Way. We will be able to see this globular cluster while we are in Costa Rica. The picture and astronomical information are from the Astronomical Picture of the Day.

    May 29

    6:30 breakfast at
    Drake Wilderness Camp
    Transfer to San Jose.

    AM and PM Lectures::
    Land Use IV: Urban Development and Biodiversity
    Synthesis of the Geology and Climate of Costa Rica
    Student Research Projects

    May 30-Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge-Indigenous Peoples, Coral Reefs, Leatherback Sea Turtle Nesting Beach, SE Costa Rica

    Transfer to Almonds & Corals, SE Costa Rica .Bus and overnight in family houses at Gandoca in Gandoca community

    AM and PM Lectures::
    The Biology and Ecology of Sea Turtles
    Study of leatherback turtle nesting. We will patrol the Caribbean beach for nesting leatherback sea turtles.

    The Monteverde Preserve Triangle Loop Trail. We will be housed at the entrance to the preserve.

    May 31
    6:30 breakfast at Almonds and Corals
    Full day with research of impacts of earthquakes on local marine communities. Afternoon Snorkel
    Study of the indigenous Bribri

    AM and PM Lectures::
    Review for final exam. Prepare final research project reports

    June 1

    6:30 breakfast at Almonds and Corals
    am:Prepare for Discovery-oriented research presentations & Final exam.
    pm: Optional Snorkel
    Discovery-oriented research presentations & Final exam

    June 2

    6:30 breakfast at Almonds and Corals
    Bus to San Jose
    Free afternoon

    June 3

    Departure to States

    Return Home


    Tropical Ecosystems of Costa Rica

    Drs. Hays Cummins and Donna McCollum

    Assigned Reading
    Brief Environmental Profiles
    Campell.C. 1997. Malaria: An Emerging and Re-emerging Global Plague.FEMS Immunology & Medical Microbiology 118:325-331.
    Natural Resources of Costa Rica.
    Mangroves and Swamp Systems
    Rutzer, K.& C. Feller. 1988. Mangrove Swamp Communities. Oceanus 30(4):18-24.
    Kuenzler, E. J. 1974. Mangrove Swamp Systems. In: Coastal Ecological Systems of the United States. Editors: Odom, Copeland & MacMahon. The Conservation Foundation
    Indigenous Peoples
    Plamer, P., Sanchez, J., and G. Mayorga. 1990. Taking Care of Sibos Gifts. An Environmental Treatise from Costa Rica's Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve.
    Tropical Forests and Diversity
    Laurance et al. 1997. Biomass Collapse in Amazonian Forest Fragments. Science 278:1117-1119.
    Hubbel et al. 1999. Light-Gap disturbances, Recruitment Limitation, and Tree Diversity in a Neotropical Forest. Science 283:554-557..
    Laurance, W. 1999. A Crisis in the Making: Responses of Amazonian Forests to land use and climate change.
    Ramos, M. and E.R. Alvarez-Buyalla. 1999. How old are Tropical Rain Forest Trees? Trends in Plant Science
    Anstett, M., Hossaert-McKey, and F. Kjellberg. Figs & Figs Pollinators: Evolutionary conflicts in a Coevolved Mutualism.
    Mueller, U., Rehner, S., and T. Schultz. 1998. The Evolution of Agriculture in Ants. Science 281: 2034-2038.
    Arita, H. and M.B. Fenton. 1997. Flight and Echolocation in the Ecology and Evolution of Bats TREE 12(2)::53-58.
    Lieberman, M. and D. Lieberman.1994. Patterns of Density & Dispersion of Forest Trees. Ch. 8, 106-119. In La Selva, Ecology and Natural History of a Neotropical Rainforest, University of Chicago Press.
    Denslow, J.S.& Gary S Hartshorn. 1994. Tree-fall Gap Environments and Forest Dynamic Processes.Ch. 9, 120-127. In La Selva, Ecology and Natural History of a Neotropical Rainforest, University of Chicago Press.
    Levey, D.J. & Gary Stiles. 1994. Birds: Ecology, Behavior and Taxonomic Affinities. Ch. 17, 217-228. In La Selva, Ecology and Natural History of a Neotropical Rainforest, University of Chicago Press.
    Hespenheide, H.A. 1994. An Overview of Faunal Studies. Ch. 19, 238-243. In La Selva, Ecology and Natural History of a Neotropical Rainforest, University of Chicago Press.
    John Terborgh, et al. 1996. Tropical Tree Communities: A test of the Nonequilibrium Hypothesis. Ecology 77(2):561-567.
    Connell, J.H. 1978. Diversity in Tropical Rainforests and Coral Reefs. Science 199:1302-1310.
    OTS LIANA: Newsletter. Winter 1993. The Organization for Tropical Studies Newsletter
    Wilson, E.O. 1990. Biophilia and the Conversation Ethic. Ch 1. Edited by S. Kelert and E.O. Wilson.
    McNeely, et al. 1990. The Values of Biological Diversity.From: Conserving the World's Biological Diversity. McNeely, Kenton, Reid, Mittermeier and Werner.
    Treefall Gaps and the Regeneration Niche: Terms
    Sunlight & Stratification.Ch 5. From Tropical Rainforests, Scientific American Library
    The Evolution of Species Diversity Ch 6. From Tropical Rainforests, Scientific American Library
    Stadtmuller, T. Cloud Forest Ecology. From Cloud Forests in the Humid Tropics, A Bibliographic Review, The United Nations University.
    Plate Tectonics. Ch 4.
    Newell, N.D. 1972. The Evolution of Reefs. Scientific American 226:54-65.
    Nature and Development
    Jaime Echeverri, et al. 1995. Valuation of non-priced amenities provided by the biological resources within the Monteverde Cloud Forest Presever, Costa Rica. Ecological Economics:43-52.
    Gottfried, et al. 1994. Models of sustainable development and forest resource management in Costa Rica. Ecological Economics:107-120.
    A New Costa Rican Model for Development in Alliance with Nature

    The "Poster Frog" of the course. Found on the Caribbean side.

    Previous Tropical Ecosystems of Costa Rica class discussion topics:

    An Overview of Land Use in Costa Rica and How Land Use Effects Deforestation Costa Rica & the Galapagos:The Positives and Negatives of Ecotourism The Ecology of Leaf Cutter Ants:
    • Diversity
    • Ecology
    • Caste System
    • Evolutionary History
    Successional changes in tropical forests: Can humans predict these changes? Are the classifications Real?


    Disturbance in Tropical Ecosystems

    Reality, Rights and Responsibilities: Indigenous Peoples of Costa Rica


    Designing a Jr. High Curriculum in Tropical Ecology: What to include and why?

    The Primates of Costa Rica
    • Ecology
    • Distribution
    • Relation to Old World Primates
    • Focus on a specific species

    Strangler Figs

    • Diversity
    • Reproductive Ecology
    • Unique Relationships with Insects
    • Ecologic Importance
    The Geology of Central America:Plate Tectonics, Earthquakes and Volcanoes The Lizards of Costa Rica:Family Iguanidae
    • Evolutionary History,
    • Species Distributions
    • Species Diversity
    • Ecology
    • Threats to Species Survival.
     Tropical Cloud Forests:
    • Unique Climate
    • Ecologic Consequences of Living in the Clouds
    • Comparisons of Cloud Forests with Lowland Rainforets

    Here's a little boost in your search for information !!

    Library Resources

    Miami Link

    Ohio Link Electronic Journals--Amazing Online Resource

    Search the Ohio Link Journal Index

    Earth & Planetary Sciences
    Environmental Sciences
    Physics & Astronomy
    Life Sciences

    Other Cool Library Stuff!

    FIRST SEARCH    Biology Science Citation Index Applied Science & Technology    Environment and Ecology
    AGRICCOLA   Geology    GEOBASE Life Sciences   General Periodicals  

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    The"Don't Leave Home Without It List"

    Tropical Ecosystems of Costa Rica

    What to Bring and Other Information

    A male frog singing in the night.

    Passport Kind of redundant, wouldn't you say!

  • PASSPORT! (One more time!)
  • Photocopy of your passport
  • Insurance card or a photocopy of the front and back of card

    Clothes and Other Things:

    Most of the places will be hot. It will rain, probably a bunch. Don't bring anything you really care about. Light clothes that dry fast are great.

    Clothes and Shoes (always think 'lightweight' and 'quick-dry')

  • Swim suit (1)
  • Lightweight shorts (3 pairs)
  • Lightweight short-sleeved shirts (3)
  • Lightweight long pants or conversion pants (pants that zip off into shorts) (2 - 3)
  • Long-sleeved, lightweight shirts (2)
  • Socks (4-6 pairs)
  • Lightweight sneakers (disposable; not flip-flops)
  • Light hiking boots that can dry quickly in a humid environment
  • Shower shoes such as flip-flops
  • Hat (wide brim for sun protection)
  • Neckerchief or bandana
  • Jacket or sweatshirt, maybe long underwear too, for cloud forest
  • Light raincoat or poncho (for rain protection and as an extra layer of warmth)

    Field Supplies

  • Sunglasses
  • Binoculars and a hand lens
  • Sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher)
  • Insect lotion (formulas with DEET are most effective)
  • Field notebook (preferably waterproof. Try 'Rite in the Rain' at brand or Forestry Suppliers, Inc.
  • Personal journal
  • Pencils, pens
  • Day pack
  • Water bottle

    Personal Supplies

  • Personal toiletries (biodegradable is good): soap, shampoo, toothpaste/toothbrush, etc.
  • Antibacterial wipes or lotions (good for cleaning hands in the field)
  • Personal first-aid kit: any prescription medications, antihistamine, anti-diarrhea meds, throat lozenges, itch-relief, antibiotic ointment, pain reliever, antiseptic, anti-fungal powder/ointment, bandages, moleskin, etc.
  • Light bath towel (or just a piece of a sheet, it dries more quickly)
  • Ear plugs
  • Wash cloth
  • Travel alarm clock (battery or wind-up)


  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Money (for personal use and also approximately $20 exit tax at airport)
  • Camera (a polarizing filter helps) and extra camera batteries
  • Film (all you need; it is difficult and expensive to buy in Costa Rica)
  • Lens cleaner and tissue for camera and binoculars
  • Resealable plastic baggies (they come in handy) and trash bags for dirty clothes

    Did you know that Costa Rica has over 600 active and extinct volcanoes?


    You can enter Costa Rica with a passport or with a birth certificate that has a raised seal and a drivers license. A passport is better and more convenient and remains valid for 10 years in case you make further travels, but it costs ~$50.00. Whichever you decide, act early to get your documents--passports can take weeks to process.


    The Center for Disease Control recommends the following for travelers on a typical tourist itinerary in Costa Rica and NE Panama. These are not mandatory; no vaccines are required by law for entry into Costa Rica. Call the Center for Disease Control (404-332-4555) for additional information.

    Malaria: Transmitted by mosquitoes, limited, only scattered reports in Costa Rica. Malaria has been reported from the Bocas del Toro region of Panama. Chloroquine (also called Aralen), 500mg (pill) once per week starting one week prior to trip. Use a good insect repellent.

    Hepatitis A: From polluted water or food. Immune Gobulin, for a limited stay, single dose recommended at least 4 wks before travel, or Hepatitis A vaccine.

    Example Flight Itinerary

    Flight Number Date Departure City Arival City Departure Time Arrival Time
    Flt 1644 5/19 New Orleans, La Houston, Tx 3:25 pm 4:28 pm
    Flt 1532 5/19 Houston, Tx San Jose, Costa Rica 5:40 pm 8:02 pm
    Flt 1535 6/3 San Jose, Costa Rica Houston, Tx 7:30 am 12:05 pm
    Flt 1626 6/3 Houston, Tx New Orleans, La 1:11 pm 2:15 pm

    We've arranged a group rate through Travel Unlimited Round-trip airfare cost is only $406 plus Tax. A refundable $40 deposit is also required. Buy your tickets directly from Travel Unlimited. Ticket costs are not refundable. Because it's an international flight, make sure to provide the following information with your reservation:


    If you want to stay longer in Costa Rica you will need to negotiate with Travel Unlimited by the time you give them your deposit. It may or may not cost extra if you stay within the 30 day limit of the ticket. In the past, most students have car-pooled to New Orleans. To retain the benefits of group travel, we need everyone to fly with the group--if for any reason you can not you need to let us know right away.

    Make sure you are at the airport at least three hours prior to departure!!

    Contacts & Day-to-Day Itinerary

    Download the itinerary and contact INFO as a document HERE!

    In San José, Costa Rica Aurora Gamez is our main contact. Have family call here first.

    Aurora Gámez
    Marco Odio
    Geo Expediciones S.A. (travel agency)
    Costa Rica, Central America
    San Jose Office 506-272-2024 FAX: (506) 272-2220 e-mail: Almonds and Corals Office: (011)506-759 9056

    2012-Tropical Ecosystems of Costa Rica Contact Phone Numbers & Itinerary

    Here is a list of important phone #s while we are in Costa Rica. Your significant others might need these. The contact phone number at Miami University, Dept of Geology, is 513-529-8183 or 513-529-3216. Call here first in case you need to speak with your family member. The main contact number in Costa Rica is a company named Geo Expediciones. Aurora and Marco are the owners and operators. When calling from the United States, use the country code (011) prior to dailing the number. Phone: (011) (506) 272-2024 FAX: (011)(506) 272-2220 e-mail: Geo Expediciones S.A.

    The places we'll be staying and phone numbers:

    In San Jose: May 21 and 27

    • San Jose Lodge: (011)506 257-8787 Tel. Fax: (011)506-223-1617 Francisco - reservations

    Leg One: May 13, 14, 15 SE Caribbean Coast

    • Almonds and Corals Hotel Phone: Geo Expediciones San Jose's office (011) 506-272 2024 - Fax (011) 506-272 2220, Hotel Phone (011) 506-759-9056 Fax 759 9089 e-mail: Contact: Sharlin Nation or Arelys Jiron, or Aurora

    Leg Two: May 16 and 17 La Selva & Arenal Volcano

    • May 16- La Selva Biological Station (011) 506-761 1052 Fax: (011) 506-761-1395 Contact: Beatriz Gamez or Adrian Ramirez
    • May 17-La Catarata Lodge Phone: (011) (011) 506-479 9522 Fax (011) 506-479 9168 Contact: Jorge Espinoza

    Leg Three: May 18, 19, and May 20 Monteverde Biological Reserve

    • La Casona de Monteverde Tel. 506 645-5122 Fax: 506 645-5034 Contact: Veronica e-mail:

    Leg Four: May 22, 23, 24, 25, and 26 Lowland Pacific Rainforests/Corcovado National Park

    • May 22--Cabinas Vistas al Cerro Phone: (011) 506-786-7744 Fax (011) 506-786-6663 Contact: Nely Portuguez
    • May 23-May 26, Drake Bay Wilderness Camp (Drake) Phone:(011) 506-770-8012 Fax (011) 506-770-8012 Contact: Marleny or Herbert Jimenez

    2012 Course Itinerary:

    • Day 1 May 13 Head to Caribbean coast--Almonds and Corals Lodge
    • Day 2 May 14 Cahuita National Park, NIght Hike
    • Day 3 May 15 SE Caribbean Coast, Intertidal Zones, Gandoca Sea Turtle Nesting Beach
    • Day 4 May 16 Transfer to La Selva Biological Station, Afternoon and Night Hikes
    • Day 5 May 17 La Selva guided morning Hike, transfer to La Catarata Lodge. Arenal Volcano Night Hike
    • Day 6 May 18 Arenal Vocano National Park Hike. Transfer to Monteverde Cloud Forest, lodging at La Casona. Night hike
    • Day 7 May 19 Monteverde Biological Reserve, Bird watching before brekfast, guided morning hike in Monetverde Cloud Forest Preserve. Afternoon (optional tour-Sky Trek or Sky Walk). Night hike
    • Day 8 May 20 Monteverde Biological Reserve--Bird watching, nature walks, Coffee Plantation Tour
    • Day 9 May 21 Morning Hikes and bird watching, Transfer to San Jose. Lodging at San Jose Lodge.
    • Day 10 May 22 Transfer to Palmar Norte--Cabinas Vista del Cerro. Stop at High altitude bog along the way.
    • Day 11 May 23 Drake Bay Wilderness Camp (Lowland Rainforest). Study Stone Spheres Archeological Site, Mangrove Ecosystem Challenge
    • Day 12 May 24 Drake Bay Wilderness Camp (Lowland Rainforest), Corocvado National Park, San Pedrillo entrance
    • Day 13 May 25 Drake Bay Wilderness Camp (Lowland Rainforest), Corocvado National Park, La Sirena entrance
    • Day 14 May 26 Drake Bay Wilderness Camp (Lowland Rainforest), Cano island National Park
    • Day 15 May 27 San Jose, Overnight San Jose Lodge
    • Day 16 May 28 Transfer out


    Some Beginning Spanish


    Hola Hello ¿Cómo se llama? What is your name?
    Buenos díaz Good Morning Me llamo ___ My name is ____
    Buenas tardes Good afternoon Hasta luego See you later
    Buenas noches Good evening
    ¿Como está How are you?
    ¿Que tal? How are things? (informal)
    Muy bien Very well
    Adiós Hello, goodbye
    Gracias Thank you
    De nada It is nothing


    No hablo Español I don't speak Spanish No entiendo I don't understand
    ¿Habla Inglés? Do you speak English? Sí Yes
    ¿Dondé esta el bañyo? Where is the bathroom? No No
    la tienda store ¿cuanto cuesta? How much is it?
    hotél hotel mas more
    comida food menos less
    helado ice cream Estados Unidos United States
    casa house
    ¿Que hora son? What time is it?

    Numbers and Days:

    cero 0 trece 13 lunes Monday
    uno 1 catorce 14 martes Tuesday
    dos 2 quince 15 miércoles Wednesday
    tres 3 dieciséis 16 jueves Thursday
    cuatro 4 diecisiete 17 viernes Friday
    cinco 5 dieciocho 18 sábado Saturday
    seis 6 diecinueve 19 domingo Sunday
    siete 7 viente 20
    ocho 8 vientiuno 21
    nueve 9 vientidos 22
    diez 10 treinta 30
    once 11 cuarenta 40 cien 100
    doce 12 cincuenta 50 ciento uno 101
    sesenta 60 doscientos 200
    setenta 70 quinientos 500
    ochenta 80 mil 1,000
    noventa 90 diez mil 10,000

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    For further information, please contact Hays Cummins or phone at 513-529-1338. The course is filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

    For more Tropical Ecosystem info, visit the Syllabus: Tropical Marine Ecology of the Florida Keys, Everglades and Bahamas| Marine Ecology Images | Costa Rica Imagery |

    Thanks for Stopping In!

    Any mail, comments or suggestions? E-mail me at