Current Course Offerings

Rainforest Ecology: Entomology

2019: 05/26/2019 – 06/09/2019

Instructor: Tanja McKay

This course is designed to provide a detailed knowledge of Neotropical entomology within an ecological framework. Extensive capturing of insects using various entomological collecting methods… (read more)

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Veterinary Field Training Mission

2018-19 Session A, La Suerte: 05/20/19 to 05/30/19, Dr. Kelly Parish, $ 2050 USD (Flyer)
2018-19 Session B, La Suerte: 07/22/19 to 08/02/19, Dr. Kelly Parish, $ 2050 USD (Flyer)
2019 Session A: Small Animal Mission, La Suerte: 12/26/18 to 01/05/19, Dr. Kelly Parish, $ 2050 USD (Flyer)
2019 Session B: Bovine Mission, La Suerte & Tortuguero: 01/03/19 to 01/13/19, Dr. Kelly Parish, $ 2050 USD (Flyer)

Designed for pre-veterinary students in their undergraduate studies. Students will learn about veterinary medicine in a developing country. (Course Info)

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Primate Behavior & Ecology

Winter: 12/27/18 to 01/09/19, $2095 USD
Summer #2: 06/24/19 to 07/17/19, $2400 USD
Summer #3: 07/19/19 to 08/14/19, $2400 USD

Dr. Laura Bolt, La Suerte (flyer)

This intensive field course provides experience in studying wild monkeys in a tropical rainforest environment and is excellent preparation for graduate studies in primatology, animal behaviour, and ecology… (Read More)

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Advanced Primate Behavior & Ecology

Winter: 12/27/18 to 01/09/19 $2095 USD
Summer #2: 06/24/19 to 07/17/19 $2400 USD
Summer #3: 07/19/19 to 08/14/19 $2400 USD

Dr. Laura Bolt, La Suerte

The Advanced Primate Behavior and Ecology course is for graduates of the MRC Primate Behavior and Ecology course and/or graduate students interested in completing master’s project fieldwork… (Read More)

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Neotropical Bat Ecology

2019: 05/13/2019 – 05/27/2019

Instructor: Dr. Thomas Risch

This course is designed to provide a detailed knowledge of Neotropical bats within an ecological framework… (read more)

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Art, Archeology & Spanish

Please contact info@maderasrfc.org for information on 2018-2019 course dates (Course Info)

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Photography for the Field Biologist

Please contact info@maderasrfc.org for information on 2018-2019 course dates

Instructor: Dr. Laroy Brandt

This two-week workshop is designed for field scientists as well as beginner and intermediate (read more)

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Rainforest Ecology

Please contact info@maderasrfc.org for information on 2018-2019 course dates

Instructor: Dr. Laroy Brandt

The course is a hands-on field experience to familiarize students with the diversity of life in the rainforest (read more)

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Tropical Herpetology

Please contact info@maderasrfc.org for information on 2018-2019 course dates (Course Info)

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Rainforest Ecology: Ornithology

Please contact info@maderasrfc.org for information on 2018-2019 course dates (Course Info)

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Neotropical Ethnobotany

Please contact info@maderasrfc.org for information on 2018-2019 course dates (Course Info)

Instructor: Dr. Travis Marisco

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Comparative Skeletal Anatomy & Function

Please contact info@maderasrfc.org for information on 2018-2019 course dates (Course Info)

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Instructors & Course Descriptions

Primate Behavior & Ecology

Instructors: Laura Bolt, Ph.D. and Amy Schreier, Ph.D

This intensive field course provides experience in studying wild monkeys in a tropical rainforest environment and is excellent preparation for graduate studies in primatology, animal behaviour, and ecology. The course includes training in field methods and culminates with an independent research project. After attending daily lectures, students individually design and complete research projects on some aspect of primate behavioral ecology with the guidance of the course professor. Undergraduate and graduate students at all levels of training are encouraged to apply.

Advanced Primate Behavior & Ecology

Instructor(s)Laura Bolt, Ph.D.

The Advanced Primate Behavior & Ecology course is for graduates of the MRC Primate Behavior & Ecology course and/or graduate students interested in completing master’s project fieldwork or doctoral pilot study at the La Suerte site with additional on-the-ground support and supervision. The course involves completion of a larger-scale independent research project focused on some aspect of primate behavioral ecology. Projects will be individually designed and completed by students with the support of the professor.

Veterinary Field Training

Instructors: Kelly Parish, D.V.M.

Designed for pre-veterinary students in their undergraduate studies. Students will learn about veterinary medicine and practical veterinary knowledge in a developing country. Students will learn about veterinary medicine in a developing country. Along with locals vets, the class will be helping animals in need of  medical attention and offer services to horses, cattle, dogs, cats and other animals. Course will cover basic clinical information about diagnostics and treatments including basic veterinary skills such as parasitological surveys, blood work, physical exams and more. Get hands-on experience.

Rainforest Ecology: Entomology

Instructors: Tanja McKay

This course is designed to provide a detailed knowledge of Neotropical entomology within an ecological framework. Extensive capturing of insects using various entomological collecting methods with daily field excursions will supplement lecture material; provide opportunity for gaining extensive experience in insect collecting techniques and identification of insects.

Insects are unique and diverse group of animals that lend themselves to a variety of lecture topics in ecology. The new world tropics, including Costa Rica are home to an incredible diversity of Insects. Neotropical Entomology will explore the insect diversity and ecology at La Suerte, Biological Field Station. This field station is located three hours from San Jose in Northeastern Costa Rica. Situated in the lowlands of the Caribbean, the field station is situated in one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world. With 1000 acres of primary and secondary rain forests, the property lies along Río La Suerte, a river that empties into the Caribbean at Tortuguero National Park. Topics in this course include: Insect family and species diversity, interactions with other organisms, conservation, and specimen collection and preservation techniques in the neotropics. The class will stress insect collecting techniques and field time allowing students to gain extensive collecting experience. Daily lectures will provide a knowledge base and ecological framework for students. An Introductory Biology course is a prerequisite. The lecture topics are:

  1. The importance, diversity and conservation of insects
  2. Insect collecting and preservation techniques
  3. Insect ecology in tropical rainforest
  4. Insect reproduction and development
  5. Tropical ants and stingless bees
  6. Tropical aquatic insects
  7. Insect societies
  8. Insect and plants
  9. Insect defense and escape
  10. Tropical insects and disease
  11. Student Presentations.
Tropical Herpetology

Tropical Herpetology is a course that is designed to introduce students to the study of reptiles and amphibians, with emphasis on field biology, ethology and other topics that are relevant to the tropics. The species of Costa Rica will be examined in detail as representative of a tropical herpetofauna, but many of the principles discussed are broadly applicable. This course that assumes some familiarity with vertebrate biology. It is intended to complement, and not replace, a course in general herpetology; however, a general herpetology course is not a prerequisite for the present course.

Rainforest Ecology: Ornithology

This course is designed to familiarize students in neotropical ecology, especially as it pertains to neotropical birds and the conservation of neotropical birds. Students will become familiar with basic concepts of ecology and avian biology. They will also be instructed on aspects of biogeography and neotropical avian ecology and behavioral ecology. All students will develop, design, and conduct an independent research project. Projects will be written up and presented to the class. To this end, all students will be introduced to ecological sampling techniques and simple data analyses.

Rainforest Ecology: General

Instructors: LaRoy Brant, Ph.D.

The course is a hands-on field experience to familiarize students with the diversity of life in the rainforest while developing a deeper understanding of tropical forest ecology and conservation. With a combination of lectures and fieldwork, time is spent on studying the diverse fauna in a tropical forest through various ecological sampling methods. Through on-site research projects students will build a foundation of skills and knowledge that are applicable to more specialized coursework or field research in primates, botany, herpetology, entomology, etc. We will focus on ecological research, behavior, and quantitative natural history of the more commonly encountered organisms.

Neotropical Bat Ecology

Instructors: Thomas Risch, Ph.D., Jessica Sewald, Ph.D.

This course is designed to provide a detailed knowledge of Neotropical bats within an ecological framework. Extensive capturing of bats during nightly field excursions will supplement lecture material; provide opportunity for gaining extensive experience in capture techniques and identification of bats in hand, and lay the groundwork for individual research problems and projects. The class will take place on Ometepe Island, a volcanic island in Lake Nicaragua. As a class we will camp in the cloud forest and survey bats at higher elevations for at least one night.The end of the class will include a visit to Masaya Volcano National Park where we will observe a large nightly emergence of bats from a cave and we will explore the local culture of the historic city of Granada.

Neotropical Ethnobotany

This course will focus on ethnoecology — how people interact with ecosystems, and medical ethnobotany — how people interact with medicinal plants. Students will learn from a combination of classroom-style lectures and hands-on activities. Students may also have the opportunity to conduct original ethnobotanical research. Major topics include the following:

  • Overview of the science of ethnobotany
  • Natural history, volcanism, botany, and ecology of Ometepe, a world heritage site
  • Comparison of natural history and ecology of the old and new world tropics
  • Land management, the environment, and health
  • Ethnobotanical research ethics, methods/techniques, and project design
  • Different perspectives from which to explore the relationship between people and plants
  • Botanical history of medicine
  • How plant medicines work in the body
  • Herbal medicine making and medicinal specimen collecting workshops
  • The food-medicine-poison continuum and food/herb-drug interactions
  • Conduct original ethnobotanical research in a unique cultural and ecological environment
Comparative Skeletal Anatomy & Function

The two week course is on skeletal anatomy of human and non-human skeletons, including monkeys. A significant portion of the course will be hands-on and students will learn the structure of various mammalian, bird, and reptilian skeletons, and observe the relationship between the bone structure and function. The course includes relevant activities such as observing monkeys and domesticated animals living in Ometepe. Comparative skeletal anatomy has numerous applications in veterinary medicine, bioarchaeology, paleoanthropology, forensic anthropology, primatology, and functional anatomy.

Photography for the Field Biologist

Instructor: LaRoy Brant, Ph.D.

This two-week workshop is designed for field scientists as well as beginner and intermediate photographers looking to develop and improve photography skills in a tropical field setting. Lectures will cover the technical basics of photography, principles of composition, digital post-processing and topics specific to tropical wildlife photography. Such instruction will be complemented by class slide show presentations and discussions, personalized help and a final presentation project. Hikes in the forests near the field station,together with organized trips on and off the island of Ometepe, will provide many opportunities for the photography of tropical flora and fauna, as well as landscape and cultural scenery. A digital camera (SLR or point-and-shoot) is required, and a laptop with image processing software (e.g. Photoshop) is recommended.

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