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Brad Taylor, Celia Chen, Matthew Ayres, Rebecca Irwin, Ryan Calsbeek
The Tropical Biology Foreign Studies
Program exposes Dartmouth students to Earth's most diverse biological
communities on land (tropical forests) and in the ocean (coral reefs). Through
intensive, full-immersion studies of these natural systems, students are
challenged to know, understand and appreciate the diversity of form and
function in organisms, and the interactions that generate the often-spectacular
patterns they see in the field. In Costa Rica (the first two-thirds of the
program), study habitats include tropical rain forest, tropical seasonally-dry
deciduous forest, cloud forest, alpine forest and mangroves. In the Caribbean
(the final third), most fieldwork is on coral reefs. Students apply and develop
their knowledge of ecological and evolutionary theory in these stimulating
environments, based at field stations (Costa Rica) and a marine laboratory
(Caribbean). All academic instruction is done by Dartmouth faculty (1-2 faculty
always present), assisted by 2 graduate student TAs. Travel, other logistics
and meals are planned to maximize time availability for study and research.
There is a full daily program from early morning to late evening, including
lectures, field orientations, laboratories on organisms and analytical methods,
and student critiques of relevant literature. As the program develops, most
time is spent on independent projects, i.e. research design, data collection,
statistical analysis, seminar presentation and manuscript writing. After
several revisions, research papers are published in an annual book that is
distributed to field stations and several libraries, as well as to students.
Faculty work closely with students on every project, share the same living and
eating facilities, and travel with them from site to site. Students are
encouraged to interact with people from the host countries at every
Biology 55: Ecological Research in the Tropics I
Biology 56: Ecological Research in the Tropics II
Biology 57: Ecological Research on Coral Reefs
Field sites may vary from year to year. Most work will be at established field research stations in the more remote areas of Central America (currently Costa Rica) or the Caribbean (at Little Cayman Island). Accommodations vary from small, modest hotels to dormitories and (for a few days) relatively primitive field camps. Living costs will be approximately the same as for room and board on campus.
Bio16; one course from among Bio
20-28, 31; acceptance into program; Bio 15 and Bio 29 recommended. Of these, at
least Biology 16 must be taken before applying for admission to the program,
and a decision on an application may depend on completion of one more advanced
course (beyond Biology 16). Additional coursework in ecology and evolution,
especially courses with laboratories, will strengthen applications. Spanish
language ability is not necessary for the academic content, but enhances
students' experience in Costa Rica. Previous research experience is also a
benefit. Selection is based on a written application and an interview with
(Photo Courtesy of Biological Sciences FSP)
Dates / Deadlines:
There are currently no active application cycles for this program.