Field course in primate ecology (Panamá) ~

5 de noviembre de 2012

Field course in primate ecology (Panamá)

2012 WINTER COURSE ANNOUNCEMENT (December 20, 2012-January 9, 2013)


Course Location: Bocas del Toro Biological Station, Boca del Drago, Isla
Colon, Republic of  Panama.  The biological station is located on a beach
facing the Caribbean Sea.  Coral reef and seagrass ecosystems lie out in
front of the station and lowland tropical rain forests lie directly behind.
This juxtaposition of the two most biologically diverse ecosystems provides
tremendous opportunities for education and research.  See for details.  There are three species of
non-human primates available for study on Isla Colon.

INSTRUCTOR.  Alain Houle, Ph.D., Associate Researcher, Department of Human
Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University,,  Specialty: Primate ecology and behaviour, canopy
access techniques.

Course Description.  The purpose of this course is to give the student a
foundation in primate ecology, primate behaviour, field techniques and
analytical tools in a tropical setting.  The material covered is equivalent
to a university upper level field course in primate ecology.  The course is
divided into five distinct components: classroom lectures, classroom
presentations by students (based on assigned readings), discussions and
exercises in the field, one written exam, and one individual project based
on data collection techniques learned in the field and in the classroom.
During the first few days students will become familiar with the many
ecosystems found in our area and with the trail systems during ³orientation²
walks.  The bulk of the first 10 days will be spent learning field
techniques and carrying out various group projects or exercises.  Midway
through the course the entire station community will take a 3-day field trip
to cloudforests of Boquete (see details below).  On returning to the field
station, students work on their individual research projects.  Towards the
end of the course students will analyze their data, write a technical report
and present their findings orally during a station-wide symposium.

Lectures/Readings.  There will be lectures on ecological concepts, primate
ecology, primate behaviour, field techniques, behavioural sampling
techniques, and analytical tools.  Readings corresponding to lecture topics
will be assigned from selected papers.

Required Textbooks.  Karen B. Strier (2010). Primate Behavioral Ecology, 4th
edition.  Prentice Hall.  A set of papers derived from articles or book
chapters will also be provided during the course.

Group Field Exercises.  Students will learn the following field techniques,
which will assist them in setting up their own independent field project:

Constructing habitat profiles
Plant phenology profiles
GPS exercise (Garmin 12XL)
Behavioural observations (behavioural sampling techniques)
Statistics (SPSS)

Individual Research Projects.  With the assistance of the instructor, each
student will develop and carry out their own field research project on a
topic of their choice.  Each topic must be approved by the instructor prior
to beginning data collection.  Each student will be required to write a
research proposal, collect and analyze their data, write up their findings,
and present their results to the class.  A text about the art of publishing
will be provided.

Grading.  All assignments must be completed before leaving the field
station, so that a final course grade can be assigned.  Course grades will
be calculated as follows (the proportion of each section is negotiable, but
an agreement must be concluded between the instructor and students before
the beginning of the course):

Individual Research Project - 40%
Written Exam - 30%
Classroom Presentation - 20%
Participation - 10%

Up to 6 units of credit will be given, 3 for the lecture portion and 3 for
the field portion.  A letter grade will be assigned based on exams, reports,
proposals, attendance at lectures, as well as by less tangibles such as
personal attitude, motivation, and contribution to the course.  Course
credit must be arranged through the student's institution.  Contact ITEC for

Course Schedule.  The course schedule will be determined on site as a
function of student needs and preferences.  It might be also

Boquete Cloud Forest Field Trip.  This field trip will allow students the
opportunity to visit other areas of Panama, to experience Panamanian
culture, and to visit tropical cloud and seasonal forests first-hand.  We
travel in ITEC boats to the mainland and then by chartered bus to Boquete
which lies at the base of 11,000 ft. Volcan Baru.  The bus trip will take us
up and over the central Chiriqui mountain range and through Palo Seco
National Park.  Several stops will be made in route.

Course Length.  ITEC Winter field courses are about three weeks in length.
The PRE W-12 course will run from December 20, 2011 through January 9, 2013.

Tuition. $1850 USD.  Tuition fee includes all lodging, meals and airport
transfers in Bocas del Toro.  The tuition also covers transportation and
lodging during the 3-day cloud forest field trip on the mainland.

Registration Deadline.  November 20, 2012.  The course is limited to 10
students and applications will be evaluated as they arrive.  If you believe
that your application may arrive late, notify ITEC.

Contact:  Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation,  2911 NW 40th PL,
Gainesville, FL 32605, phone:  352-367-9128, email:, web:  Contact Dr. Houle ( for
course details.

Peter N. Lahanas
Executive Director

Institute for Tropical Ecology
and Conservation (ITEC)
2911 NW 40th Place
Gainesville, FL 32605, USA

phn:  352-367-9128

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