*Presentations and Programs
- to be attended throughout your travels, reading handouts will be
given to you when necessary
Please purchase all
required readings that are listed below.
of Costa Rica
• Biodiversity and speciation
• Species richness and abundance
• Rainforest structure and stability
• Identifying the variety of life (flora and fauna) that exists
in the rainforest
• Species interactions
• Evolutionary adaptations of rainforest organisms
• Ecosystems and their interactions
• Importance of biodiversity and threats (required reading, The
Future of Life, E.O. Wilson)
• Humans and the environment
• Costa Rica’s rainforest conservation efforts
• Threatened, endangered and extinct species
• The plight of the Chelonia mydas (Atlantic Green) and the Dermochelys
coriacea (Leatherback) sea turtles (required reading, The Windward
Road, Archie Carr)
• Conservation and research efforts of the Carribean Conservation
Corporation (CCC) and the Asociacion ANAI
Students in Biology 497 must select a topic of interest (approved by instructor)
and lead a
30-45 minute discussion.
will be given a trip journal
to keep notes on your trip. For
example, you should keep a daily
journal of things you did, things
you saw and things you learned.
You might also want to keep track
of the people you met and anything
else you wish to remember, such
as your first impressions, your
your trip you will be asked to write a short summary for each day travel.
Your submitted entries will be incorporated into student learning activities
for students in Drs. Jacqueline McLaughlin's and Stam Zervano's PSU first
year seminar course entitled Biodiversity
On Line. Your entries will also be quoted in various newspaper,
magazine, and journal publications given your permission.
trip you will also be required to answer the following questions. It is
suggested that you keep them in mind and write some of your answers throughout
a) In general,
what impressed you the most about Costa Rica?
b) Overall, what were your best and worst experiences?
c) Any surprises or disappointments throughout the trip?
d) What did you learn about the biodiversity of Costa Rica’s different
types of rainforests? What was your favorite rainforest type visited and
where was it? Why was it your favorite?
e) What did you learn about the biodiversity of Costa Rica’s tropical
cloud forest at Monteverde National Park? What did you feel about its
state of preservation?
f) What problems, if any, concerning biodiversity did you uncover? And
are there solutions?
g) How have human activities impacted the natural habitats of Costa Rica?
h) What are your opinions on the future of Costa Rica’s biodiversity?
i) Give an example of two or three key concepts of biodiversity that you
experienced firsthand in the field. Examples: keystone species exerting
strong controls on community structure, affects of abiotic factors, affects
of biogeographic factors, ecological succession, and disturbance and community
structure. Elaborate on how these experiences impacted your learning.
Examples: keystone species exerting strong controls on community structure,
affects of abiotic factors, affects of biogeographic factors, ecological
succession, and disturbance and community structure. Elaborate on how
these experiences impacted your learning.
- to be completed throughout your travels and upon your return to the
taking the Biology 297 credits are required to thoroughly
research a selected Costa Rican plant or animal species. Students taking
Biology 497 credits are required to thoroughly research two selected Costa
Rican plant or animal species. In order to eliminate replication, you
need to tell Dr. McLaughlin the species that you have chosen. Please do
this on the airplane to Costa Rica or sometime early on, during the trip.
She will record your choices(s) and eliminate it from her list. If there
is replication she will notify you so that individuals can make other
choices, if need be.
During your trip you should try to find out as much as possible about
your selected organism(s) by asking questions, talking with expert naturalist
field guides, your professor and other biologists on the trip, using field
guide books, etc. Upon your return you may wish to research your organism(s)
You will need to answer questions like the following:
• What is the scientific name of the species? Common name?
• Where was the organism spotted?
• What is the range and habitat of the species?
• What is its evolutionary history? (Origin, relatives etc.)
• What role does it play in its environment (niche)? Is it a keystone
• Any unique adaptations?
• Elaborate on the species food chain.
• Is it an endemic species to Costa Rica? If not, where else is
• What are the threats to its survival
Research for Biology 497 Students
to be completed during your travels and upon your return to the mainland
Based on pre-trip reference reviews and discussions with the course instructors,
you will submit a protocol for conducting a field research study during
our stay in Costa Rica. A scientific report will be due as part of your
post-trip assignment and will include objectives, methods, data analysis
and interpretation, conclusions, and literature review.