Field course in primate ecology and behavior (Panama) ~

7 de octubre de 2015

Field course in primate ecology and behavior (Panama)

COURSE LOCATION: Bocas del Toro Biological Station, Boca del Drago, Isla Colon, Republic of Panama.  The biological station is located on a hill facing the Caribbean Sea.  Coral reef and sea grass ecosystems lie in front of the station and lowland tropical rain forests are 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,, or   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 “orientation” 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 field trip to the cloud forests 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 PROJECT:  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.

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 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-15 will run from December 20, 2015 through July 9, 2016.

TUITION: $1950 USD.  Tuition fee includes all lodging, meals and airport transfers in Bocas del Toro.  The tuition also covers transportation and lodging during the three-day cloud forest field trip on the mainland.

REGISTRATION DEADLINE: November 20, 2015.  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.

GRADING and COURSE CREDIT:  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 at the student’s institution.  Contact ITEC for details.

APPLICATIONS can be found at: 

CONTACT:  Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation,  2911 NW 40th PL, Gainesville, FL 32605, phone: 352-367-9128, email:,  web:    ITEC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1996.

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