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Objectives

  • To study the ecology and conservation of terrestrial tropical systems
  • To gain first-hand research experience in contrasting tropical habitats

Tropical Ecology and Conservation

Course Requirements and Grading

  • Ecosystem Presentation = 15%
  • Research Proposal & Presentation = 35%
  • Participation = 10%
  • Research Reports & Presentations (in Costa Rica) = 35%
  • Journals = 5%

Reading

Please see the Readings page for a full list of text resources, as well as reading assignments for each week listed on the schedule below.

Required Text

Miyata, Ken, and Forsyth, Adrian. Tropical Nature. Touchstone, New York. 1984.

Kellman, Martin, and Tackaberry, Rosanne. Tropical Environments: the Functioning and Management of Tropical Ecosystems. Routledge, New York.1997.

Optional Text

Beletsky, Les. Travelers' Wildlife Guides: Costa Rica. Interlink Books, Boston. 2005.

Assignments

Please see the Assignments page for a full list and descriptions of everything assigned during this course.

Attendance and Class Participation

This fall we will be laying the foundation for our trip in December/January. Class participation is critical, so please do not miss class. You must:

  1. Come to class with an in-depth understanding of the readings and two written questions that you would like to discuss
  2. Ask questions when you don't understand some aspect of the reading or discussion
  3. Be prepared to lead or jump-start discussions
  4. Disagree with your colleagues if your interpretation is different

Class Schedule

This course meets twice a week for classes during the school semester, and then goes on a trip to Costa Rica. A Costa Rica trip schedule is also provided.

Week Day Date Topic Readings
F & M=Forsyth & Miyata
K & T=Kellman & Tackaberry
1 Tues
Thurs
Sept 6
8
Course Introduction
Hypotheses in Science
F & M - ch 1-3
2 Tues
Thurs
Sept 13
15
Discussion of Tropical Nature (seasonality)
Consequences of Seasonality
F & M - ch 4-9
Wright 1992
3 Tues
Thurs
Sept 20
22
Mechanisms of Climatic Variation
Library Session (how to find and evaluate library sources)
K & T - ch 1-3
4 Tues
Thurs
Sept 27
29
Consequences of Climate Change
Write Article on Climate Change for General Public
Pounds et al. 1999
Lawton et al. 2001
Nadkarni & Solano 2002
LaVal 2004
5 Tues
Thurs
Oct 4
6
Nutrient Cycling & Consequences of Deforestation
Ecosystem Reports 1: Tropical Dry Forests, Ecosystem 2: Lowland Tropical Rainforests
K & T - ch 4
Markiewitz et al. 2004
6 Tues
Thurs
Oct 11
13
No Class
Research Proposal: Paper presentation
None
7 Tues
Thurs
Oct 18
20
Biological Interactions
Ecosystem Reports 3: Tropical Cloud Forests, Ecosystem 4: Tropical Paramo & Alpine
K & T - chapter 5 (pp 92-114)
8 Tues
Thurs
Oct 25
27
Evolution of Biodiversity
Research Proposal: Hypothesis and Rationale
F & M - ch 10-15
9 Tues
Thurs
Nov 1
3
Maintenance of Biodiversity: Are species equivalent?
Value of Biodiversity
Phillips et al. 1994
Terborgh et al. 1996
10 Tues
Thurs
Nov 8
10
Agriculture: Traditional
Individual Meetings to Discuss Research Proposal
K & T - chapter 8
11 Tues
Thurs
Nov 15
17
Agriculture: Intensified
Ecosystem Reports 5: Coffee, Ecosystem 6: Forestry
K & T - chapter 9, 10
12 Tues
Thurs
Nov 22
24
Ecosystem Report 7. Tropical Forests, Carbon Sequestration and the Kyoto Protocol
No Class
None
13 Tues
Thurs
Nov 29
Dec 1
Write Article on Carbon Sequestration for the General Public
Research Proposal Presentations
None
14 Tues
Thurs
Dec 6
8
Research Proposal Presentations
Research Proposal Presentations
None