DANTA Tropical Biology and Conservation Training Courses Winter 2016

Each year DANTA offers a number of training courses in various aspects of tropical biology. Typically, the courses are one month long but shorter courses are also offered through our organization. The courses are intended for undergraduates or early graduate level students who have a keen interest in tropical biology and conservation, but have little or no experience of working in a tropical environment.

For more information, please visit our website and/or contact us at conservation@danta.info.

Dr. Alan Poole

Birds of Costa Rica

Dates: January 1-15, 2016

Application deadline: December 1, 2015

Program fee: $2100

Instructor: Dr. Alan Poole

Location: Piro Research Station, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

Course Description

Costa Rica is justly renowned for its extraordinary bird diversity, and for the depth of study that has focused on the life histories of these delightful animals, often so social, colorful and full of song.  We will take advantage of these highlights, with a course designed around the ecology and behavior of some of Costa Rica’s most easily seen (and heard) birds, and the biologists who have studied them.  Knowing the history of bird studies in Costa Rica will help us understand these birds more fully, and will also let us see how growth in knowledge of their biology was linked to the vibrant conservation movement that has helped to define this country.

We will base our studies at the remote but comfortable Piro Research Station on Costa Rica’s spectacular Osa Peninsula, home to some of Central America’s last remaining primary forest and its wildest beaches.  Our Piro studies will focus on four key topics: 1) Learning to identify birds by sight and sound. While no one can expect to learn all of Costa Rica’s birds in 2 weeks, students will become familiar with the most common species found on the Osa in early January, at the start of the dry season; 2) Methods of collecting and analyzing the behavior of free-ranging birds. Here we will focus on birds easily seen, designing short but focused studies on such topics as foraging, habitat choice, interactions within flocks, and song (we will have access to basic equipment for recording and analyzing song).  3) Patterns of species diversity: here we will look broadly, and from an ecological and evolutionary perspective, at what kinds of birds are found in Costa Rica.  Why, for example, are there dozen of species of hummingbirds and flycatchers, but far fewer parrots, pigeons and quail?  4) Key studies of Costa Rican birds: some of the giants in American ornithology have spent their careers researching Costa Rican birds. We will pick highlights from these studies, gaining an understanding not only of how ornithology is done, but also of what topics emerged from these studies and how they helped shape conservation in Costa Rica.

Students are welcomed from all walks of biology, but a background in biology is not a prerequisite; key is a keen desire to learn more about Costa Rican birds and ornithology.  Physical demands in this course are modest but real; students can expect to walk 2-3 kilometers/day, occasionally in uncomfortable weather (heat, rain). Good binoculars are key to studying birds: students are encouraged to bring their own, but a few loaner pairs will be available to those who don’t have them.

The course includes a field trip to an sustainable chocolate plantation,and boat tour of the Golfo Dulce for dolphin viewing and snorkeling. We overnight on the Boruca Indigenous Reserve where we will learn about the community and their traditional lifeways, and help with needed projects. The field trip is in cooperation with Planet Conservation, our sustainable and socially responsible travel partner.

Enrollment is limited to 15 students. The course is open to both credit and non-credit seeking students. University credit can be arranged through your home institution.

Black handed spider monkeys

Methods in Primate Behavior and Conservation

Dates: January 1-15, 2016

Application deadline: December 1, 2015

Program fee: $2100

Location: Piro Research Station, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

Course Description

This course is designed to provide students with field experience in primate behavior, ecology, and conservation. This course will be held at Osa Conservation’s Piro Reseach Station in Costa Rica’s spectacular Osa peninsula. As the one of the largest tracts of rain forest north of the Amazon (roughly 400,000 acres in the Osa Conservation Area), it is renowned for high species diversity. It is one of only a few places in Costa Rica that has jaguar, puma, sea turtles and four species of monkey (mantled howler monkey, black-handed spider monkey, white-faced capuchin and squirrel monkey).

The learning experiences for the course fall into four main categories: field exercises, seminars, lectures, and applied conservation. The field exercises and seminars provide instruction and experience in: (1) methods of measuring environmental variables, including assessment of resource availability, (2) methods of collecting and analyzing the behavior of free-ranging primates, (3) assessments of biodiversity and (4) techniques for estimating population size. Lecture topics will cover the behavior and ecology of Old and New World primates from an evolutionary perspective. Selected lecture topics include primate sociality, feeding ecology, taxonomy, rain forest ecosystems and conservation. Service learning is a large component of all our programs. Students will gain experience in applied primate conservation and also have opportunity to participate in Osa Conservation’s sea turtle breeding and monitoring program.

During the course participants will also have opportunity to see an active volcano and hike through montane cloud forest during our visit to Volcan Poas National Park in Costa Rica’s Central Valley. In addition, we will visit a sustainable chocolate plantation,and boat tour of the Golfo Dulce for dolphin viewing and snorkeling. We overnight on the Boruca Indigenous Reserve where we will learn about the community and their traditional lifeways, and help with needed projects. All within country travel is in cooperation with Planet Conservation, our sustainable travel partner. Every effort is made to implement eco-friendly and socially responsible practices into our day-to-day operations, field courses and overall mission.

Enrollment is limited to 15 students. The course is open to both credit and non-credit seeking students. University credit can be arranged through your home institution.

Bat flight

Neotropical Bat Biology

Dates: January 1-15, 2016

Application deadline: December 1, 2015

Program fee: $2100

Instructor: Dr. Heather York

Location: Piro Research Station, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

Course Description

This two-week course on bat biology offers an intensive field experience during which students will participate in a number of guided hikes and introductory “bat nights” to gain familiarity with tropical habitats and organisms, to learn to identify Costa Rica’s diverse bat fauna, and to practice field techniques used for capturing and studying bats.  Students then will carry out field projects focusing on a specific topic in bat biology, including performing laboratory and statistical analyses and presenting their findings to the group.  Additional time will be spent in discussions of general ecology, zoology, and issues in tropical biology.

The course includes a field trip to a sustainable chocolate plantation,and boat tour of the Golfo Dulce for dolphin viewing and snorkeling. We overnight on the Boruca Indigenous Reserve where we will learn about the community and their traditional lifeways, and help with needed projects. The field trip is in cooperation with Planet Conservation, our sustainable and socially responsible travel partner.

Enrollment is limited to 10 students. The course is open to both credit and non-credit seeking students. University credit can be arranged through your home institution.

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