BIO 316 Tropical Ecosystems of Costa Rica
(2 credit hour study abroad course)
Date of Field Trip:

Leave on Tuesday, April 17, 2007 - return on Tuesday, May 1, 2007 (15 days).

Spring semester final exams will be taken early by participants.


BIO 316 is a May Block Short Term course. Tuition for this course is free for May Block Short Term dormitory students. BIO 316 2 cr hrs will not count as an overload during Short Term.


One laboratory course in biology, or permission from instructor.

Recommendation: BIO 315 Tropical Ecosystems of Costa Rica is designed to teach and prepare students about the natural history of Costa Rica with emphasis on identification of birds. This course is highly recommended but is not a requirement for BIO 316.

Enrollment: Maximum number of student participants is 14.

Enrollment Priority is given to:

Senior biology majors
Students completing BIO 315
Judson students
Judson faculty
Field Guide:
Stiles, F. Gary and A.F. Skutch. 1989. A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica. Comstock Pub. Asso. Ithaca, New York.
Recommended Reading before the trip to Costa Rica: Krichen, John. 1997. A Neotropical Companion. Princeton Univ. Press. New Jersey.
Purpose of field study:

To experience and learn about tropical ecosystems in Costa Rica. We will tour and study in several life zones. Emphasis is given to bird identification and behavior. We will observe the impact of agriculture and commercial forestry on the natural habitats of the country. We will experience the conservation and preservation efforts of Costa Rica. We will learn the role of ecotourism and eco-education in the effort to "save the forests."

Dr. and Mrs. Wilson spent two weeks in Costa Rica in the Spring of 2005. This was a working trip to establish and plan for the Judson College trip in late April, 2006. A well-respected Nature Tour Company will be selected to organize and conduct our study. Dr. Wilson presented an itinerary to several companies, and he will select the best package for the trip.

Professionally educated natural history guides are employed by these ecotourism companies. These guides complete a long, rigorous educational certificate program before being employed. Nature guide is a profession in Costa Rica. These people "know their stuff"…Latin names for plants, identification of most of the 857 species of birds.

Many of the 12 life zones (Holdridge) will be visited. We will travel by vans, stay in modest but comfortable lodges, and will be accompanied by professional nature guides. Costa Rica is about half the size of Kentucky. It is a compact land of mountains (600 volcanoes), valleys, and has great biodiversity which makes Costa Rica an excellent place to conduct a field trip and to study natural history.

With 857 species of birds, Costa Rica is probably the "hot spot" of birding for the planet. Ecotourism is a growing and respected industry in Costa Rica. The people of Costa Rica are polite, friendly, and most speak English. Costa Rica is simply a wonderful place to visit and to experience the beauty and wonder of nature. The fruit is wonderful…mangos and pineapples.
Stressful components of the trip:

The lowlands will be hot and humid (2 days). It will rain, and we will slosh through mud. You will have some "bad hair" days. On many days we go from early morning till late evening. We will walk several miles each day.

There are mosquitoes, stinging insects, and snakes. Mosquito borne diseases such as dingue fever and malaria are a concern. You will need to wear insect repellant with DEET. You should drink only bottled water. You should avoid all uncooked vegetables (salads, etc.). Volcanoes are dangerous.

Costa Rica Trip Itinerary - 2006
Contacts in Costa Rica:

The tour company will be in constant phone and radio contact with the drivers and guides at all times. (Will be provided later.)
Course Management:

This course is managed by Educator. Go to the menu and learn about Assignments, External Links, Health Advisory, Required Documents, and What to Pack.

Required Documents:

Required documents are found in Educator under Course Materials…Packets.
Course Grade:

Each student will keep a Field Journal. Instructions for the Field Journal are in Assignments.

Computation of Grade (all points count the same)

Field Journal - 100 points
The students will work together after the trip and construct a PowerPoint presentation for the College. Instructions for this presentation are in Assignments - 25 points.

Cost of Field Trip to Costa Rica (estimate as of 25 Oct., 2005):

Final payment will vary according to actual cost of airfare and according to total number of participants. This estimated cost is based on a minimum of 8 participants. The cost may be somewhat less if there are more partaicipants.

Study Tour includes international airfare ($750), lodging, all fees, transportation in Costa Rica, guides, 16 meals (see itinerary) = $2,404.00.

Not included:30 meals @ approximately $6/meal + tips = $225.00; non-itinerary activities, personal spending money, laundry money.
Payment Schedule:

$1,200.00 by 5 December 2005

$1,200.00 by 5 Feb. 2006