Duke University : Global Education for Undergraduates

OTS - Costa Rica Tropical Biology (summer)

This 4-week, one course undergraduate program provides access to a broad array of tropical ecosystems, including lowland wet forest at La Selva, dry forest, and wetlands at Palo Verde, and premontane moist forest at Las Cruces.

OTS Costa Rica Tropical Biology Summer Program

Course Description

BIOLOGY 280LA Fundamentals of Tropical Biology offers students the exciting opportunity to study first-hand the evolutionary ecology of important plant and animal taxa in tropical ecosystems. Course design emphasizes intensive field work and visits all three OTS field stations as well as other sites. Students are thus introduced to a great diversity of tropical habitats, each possessing distinctive biotas that in turn demonstrate unique evolutionary histories and ecological dynamics. As part of the course, students work closely with resident professors in the design, implementation, and interpretation of their own independent research project in field ecology. Independent projects allow students to learn science by doing science in a beautiful and challenging tropical setting. Results are presented orally following the protocol of a scientific meeting. Students also submit a formal research report which becomes part of the permanent records of OTS field stations.

The course concludes with a short unit on conservation biology, including the application of island biogeography to reserve design and management, as well as the impact of deforestation and fragmentation.

Non-Duke Applicants: Non-Duke students must be degree-seeking students in good standing at an accredited college or university. Students who are not matriculated at a college or university are not eligible to participate in study abroad on Duke’s programs.

GEO policy for graduating seniors who wish to apply for a Duke summer study abroad/away program:

Students must be active, matriculated students in order to participate in any Duke-in summer programs, including Duke’s domestic summer programs.  All program courses must be taken for graded credit. If seniors plan  to graduate in May of the year they plan to study abroad in the summer, they will not be eligible to participate on any of our summer programs unless they receive approval from their academic dean at Duke to delay their graduation until after the summer program has ended.

Non-Duke students planning to graduate in May in the year they plan to study abroad in the summer must provide approval to delay their graduation until after the summer program has ended from the appropriate official at their home institution Such approval must be furnished in writing to GEO before the student will be allowed to participate in the summer program.  This approval may be sent via email to the appropriate program assistant at GEO.  
Duke students who defer their graduation to participate in study abroad should consult with their financial aid advisor in the Duke Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid to determine whether they are eligible for a summer aid package and/or a GEO summer scholarship.

Box 90633 Durham, NC 27708-0633
Phone: (919) 684-5774
Fax: (919) 684-5661

    • Postcard from Abroad
    • Postcard from Abroad
    • Dear Office of Study Abroad:

      Every night after a long day of hiking, collecting samples, and avoiding snakes, one or many of us would head out to the docks in Palo Verde. It was a time to unwind and recognize the beauty of the land that we had been thrown head first into. From the beautiful seasonal wetlands of Palo Verde, to the tropical rainforest of La Selva, Costa Rica brought beauty into our lives every day.

      On this, our final day in Palo Verde, I arrived at the dock to find a small group already gathered. One by one, the rest of the group trickled in, all of us allowing our food to grow cold in the dining hall, in order to watch the sun fall one last time over the water. As the sun finally set beneath the horizon and a chorus of frogs erupted in their nightly song, one by one, without a word, we turned on our headlamps and headed to dinner. None of us could say anything; we all knew we'd never see a sunset quite as breathtaking or a land quite as alive and magnificent as Costa Rica and the sunset that night.

      – Valerie Vaughn

  • Students in Costa Rica