guanacaste
The guanacaste
is a magnificent  tree, and the park's namesake

Tropical Ecology: Costa Rica
Biology  / Environmental Studies 350

May Term 2012


View of the sunset
from the Cacao Biological Station

Introduction to the ecosystems, animals, and plants of Costa Rica, including issues associated with the preservation of biodiversity.  Studies will be conducted both in the field and in the classroom. 

If you are interested in taking Biology 350 or Environmental Studies 350 during the May Term 2012, please pick up an application form from Dr. Harper either at the May Term Travel Fair, October 11 from 5-7pm in the Memorial Center Main Lounge or from his office at CNS C107A after that date.

Prerequisites for Envir. Studies 350:  ENST 120 – Ecology and Environmental Problems (can be taken during the spring semester, 2012); consent of instructor. 

Prerequisites for Biology 350:  Biology 102 (as of the Fall semester, 2012) and consent of instructor.

Prerequisites for all students:  You must be in very good physical condition and be able to tolerate constant humidity/heat, and the presence of scorpions, spiders, and other uninvited organisms in your room.  In order to snorkel along the coral reef, you must pass a swim test administered by Dr. Harper.


White-Faced capuchin monkey
at Santa Rosa National Park, one of the few remaining tropical dry forests in the world


Students enjoy Naranjo beach at sunset.

Selection Process: Students must pick up a form from Dr. Harper, complete it and return it.  Students from all majors will be considered and up to 16 students can enroll in the course.  The selection criteria include career interests, academic performance (i.e., GPA) and the reasons you wish to enroll in the course.  All students will be notified by e-mail as to whether they will participate in the course.  

Cost of the Course:  $3,250:  This amount includes all meals, all lodging and transportation. Some equipment (e.g. frame backpack, hiking boots, binoculars, etc.) is mandatory for students enrolled in the course, and the cost (above) does not include those items. 

Tentative Travel Dates:  4 May - 20 May 2012.  We will fly from Chicago O’Hare to Liberia, Costa Rica, and then and return to O’Hare on 20 May.  Students are responsible for their own transportation to/from Chicago O’Hare.

Location in Costa Rica:  The Area de Conservacion Guanacaste is in northwest Costa Rica, and Liberia is the nearest city. You can get more information from the following we sites: http://www.acguanacaste.ac.cr/1997/index.html ; http://www.investigadoresacg.org/; http://www.acguanacaste.ac.cr/

Ecosystems visited:  We will conduct studies in the Tropical Dry Forest, virgin montane (i.e., mountain) Pacific rain forest, Caribbean rain forest, a coastal mangrove ecosystem and a coral reef.

Accommodations:  We will stay in field research stations in Santa Rosa National Park (with plug-in electricity), at Cacao (a remote field station with no plug-in electricity), and at a Caribbean lodge.  One night we will camp on the beach (Playa Naranjo).   


A view of the cloud forest
from the top of Cerro Orosilito.

Photos from prior May Term trips may be seen here.


Off-road driving
is essential on the steep terrain surrounding the Cacao Volcano.