BIO 315 Tropical Ecosystems of Costa Rica
(2 credit hour lecture course)
One laboratory course in biology.
To learn about tropical ecosystems by studying the great diversity of life in Costa Rica. We will focus on the geology, biology, and ecology of this extremely interesting and inviting country. A major purpose of this course is to prepare students for BIO 316 Field Studies in Costa Rica (BIO 316 syllabus is found in External Links of this course).

Costa Rica's origin, culture, natural history, demographics, and the impact of people on nature will be discussed. This is an integrated course with students participating in the presentation of selected topics and assignments. Guest lectures will be given by individuals with life experiences in Costa Rica.
With over 857 species of birds, Costa Rica may have the greatest concentrated avifauna on Earth. Over 857 species of birds occur in Costa Rica. Field identification of birds is the main emphasis of this course. We will also concentrate on the geology and botany of the country. We will study selected mammals, reptiles (snakes), and insects.

This course is organized according to the 12 life zones of Costa Rica. We will visit many of these ecosystems in the field component of this course.
Costa Rica Biological Zones (from Holdridge)

Tropical dry forest
Tropical moist forest
Tropical wet forest
Tropical premontane moist forest
Tropical premontane wet forest
Tropical premontane rain forest
Tropical lower montane moist forest
Tropical lower montane wet forest
Tropical lower montane rain forest
Tropical montane wet forest
Tropical montane rain forest
Tropical subalpine rain paramo
Course Managament System:

Educator is used to manage this course. Assignments, Tasks, External Links, Examinations, and Grades are found in Educator.

A link to Thomas Wilson's personal website is found in External Links. Wilson's site contains course information and includes numerous images of his recent trip to Costa Rica.

External Links of Educator contains sites for Costa Rica's natural and cultural history, Health Issues, Required Documents, Itinerary and Contact Information.
Student Presentations (suggested topics; see Assignments for guidelines):

Tropical Ecology (including land use, agriculture, conservation, etc)
Plants (epiphytes, animal/plant relationships)
Volcanism (Arenal volcano most active in Central America)
Indigenous peoples
Coral reefs
Mangrove ecosystems
Endemic species (found only in Costa Rica)
Animal or plant species (leaf cutting ants, howler monkeys)
Bird behavior (Tucon (species) war with other birds)
Cocoa to chocolate
Ecotourism influence on "saving the forests"
Other topics (get Dr. Wilson's approval first)
Grading System:

A ten point system is used (90 - 100 = A, etc.)

Computation of course grade (all points count the same): Two 100 point exams (mid-term and final) 25 point student topic (paper and presentation) Several 5 point assignments
Course Text: Kricher, John. 1999. 2 ed. A Neotropical Companion. Princeton University Press. Princeton, New Jersey.
Course References (all in Bowling library on reserve):

Henderson, Carrol. 2002. Field Guide to the Wildlife of Costa Rica. University of Texas Press. Austin.

Janzen, Daniel H. 1983. Costa Rica Natural History. University of Chicago Press. Chicago.

Kricher, John. 1997. A Neotropical Companion. Princeton University Press. Princeton, New Jersey.

Stiles, F. Gary and A.F. Skutch. 1989. A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica. Comstock Pub. Asso. Ithaca, New York.
For more information, contact:
Dr. Thomas Wilson