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Costa Rica Course Outline

BIO 360 Tropical Ecosystems

Spring 2016

Dr. Patricia Szczys Sci 363 x 54324

Dr. Matthew Graham Sci 366 x 53796

Course Objectives: The primary objective of the course is to increase your understanding of tropical ecosystems by examining fundamental concepts of tropical ecology, as well as various topics currently attracting considerable research attention. Because this course is uniquely related to BIO 320 Tropical Biology - Costa Rica (see below), considerable effort will be devoted to activities/assignments that are designed to enhance the educational value of the Costa Rica field experience. In addition to factual and conceptual content, the course will also focus on the design and execution of field studies in tropical biology.

Course Relationship to BIO 320: This course serves as a prerequisite for Bio 320 Tropical Biology-Costa Rica; thus, students must satisfactorily complete Bio 360 in order to participate in Bio 320. Biology majors, who have completed or will have completed BIO 220 and BIO 230 by May 2014, may count Bio 320/360 as one of their required upper-level biology courses for the major, provided that they complete Bio 320 and Bio 360 with grades of C or better.

Special Requirements: The seminar format for this course places special emphasis on at least two facets that may not ordinarily be stressed in other courses: attendance and out-of-class preparation. In classes with seminar formats, students who fail to attend or who attend but fail to complete reading assignments, not only penalize themselves, but seriously detract from the quality of the course for everyone involved. Therefore, students will be allowed no more than one excused absence, and they will be expected to come to class prepared to participate in class discussions and other exercises.

Grading: Course grades will be based on the instructors' assessment of each student's classroom performance. Attendance, completion of reading assignments, participation in class discussions, oral presentations, and oral responses to questions will be weighed heavily in this assessment. If considered necessary, unannounced in-class written assignments will be required and/or a comprehensive written examination will be given during Session 9 of the course.

Required Texts: Tropical Nature: Life and Death in the Rainforests of Central and South America by A. Forsyth and K. Miyata.

BIO 320 Tropical Biology - Costa Rica

Spring 2016

Dr. Patricia Szczys Sci 363 x 54324

Dr. Matthew Graham Sci 366 x 53796

Course Objectives: Tropical Biology-Costa Rica is designed to give you an opportunity to study first-hand the biology of tropical terrestrial ecosystems. The emphasis of the course will be on basic aspects of tropical rainforest and the natural history of tropical organisms. However, the experience is intended to be multifaceted in its educational appeal, and attention will be directed toward such topics as the peculiarities of tropical agriculture, the socioeconomic consequences of development in the tropics, and the conservation of tropical ecosystems.

Course Requirements: The major component of the course is an intensive, twelve-day field experience in the Central American country of Costa Rica. While in Costa Rica you will keep a daily journal, participate in daily discussions, and conduct a field research project. After returning from Costa Rica, a daily journal and a final research report of one of your two assigned projects will be due. A short summary of the second project is also required. All of the submitted written work should reflect a standard of rigor appropriate for an upper-level course. In the event that the field project does not yield meaningful results or if the project was unable to be completed for any reason, an alternative writing assignment may, at the discretion of the instructors, be substituted for the field project report.

Prerequisites: BIO 360 - Ecology of Tropical Ecosystems. This 1-credit seminar offered during the spring semester (Spring 2012) is open to anyone who has been accepted into the BIO 320 course. Students who have completed BIO 220 and BIO 230 can use the two-course combination of BIO 360 and BIO 320 as one of the upper-level courses required for the Biology major.

Required Textbooks: Tropical Nature: Life and Death in the Rainforests of Central and South America, by A. Forsyth and K. Miyata; Scribners, 1984

Important Dates

  • May 22 - June 2 Field trip to Costa Rica
  • July 1 Daily journal and all written assignments due

Cost: The cost for the field experience in Costa Rica is anticipated to be approximately $2400, depending on the number of participants and airfares. This price covers all required expenditures associated with the trip, except travel insurance.

Special Requirements: Because of its unique nature, the success of this course depends on the full cooperation and participation of everyone involved. You are expected to approach the course with an attitude of curiosity and commitment, and with a sense of responsibility for your actions, as well as the actions of the entire group. Please keep in mind that the nature of your individual participation contributes significantly to the group's collective experience.

Please note the following course requirements

  1. In order to participate, full-time ECSU students must register for BIO 320 Tropical Biology for the Spring 2012 semester, and must take the course for a letter grade. BIO 320 may not be taken on a credit/no-credit basis.
  2. Students enrolled in BIO 320 must complete all assignments by the stated deadlines in order to pass the course.
  3. Any student who received scholarship money for BIO 320 but does not complete the course with a grade of C- or better will be required to repay the money in full.