Course code:



IM - Introductory/Intermediate

Class size limit:


Meets the following requirements:

  • ES - Environmental Science

Lab fee:


Typically offered:

Every other year

 This intensive, field-based course examines fundamental concepts of tropical ecology through exploration and investigation of a diverse array of bioclimatic zones found within the Central American country of Costa Rica. It is part of a three-credit expeditionary program in neotropical field ecology and conservation. Students will spend considerable time in the field learning the biotic diversity of each region through observation and application of field techniques. Students will then integrate these field experiences with readings from the primary literature and classic works to contemplate and discuss current topics in tropical ecology. Primary emphasis will be placed on the vertebrate fauna of Costa Rica but every attempt will be made to also include invertebrates and plants by enlisting the expertise of local naturalists. The course will visit Caribbean slope rainforest, pre-montane forest, montane cloud forest, Pacific slope dry forest, Pacific wet forest, and Pacific beach/marine communities. Non-travel days will typically consist of early to late-morning field time, afternoon lectures or discussions followed by early evening to late night field time. Evaluation will be based on a detailed field journal, performance on a series of field-based exercises that focus on knowledge of species and concepts, level of engagement in class discussions, and quality of work associated with an independent research project.


Co-enrollment in MD1016 Seeing Tropical Ecology through the Arts and ES1069 Collaborative Conservation Practices on the Osa Peninsula, and permission of instructor.  

Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.