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Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring Break 2019 10/01/2018 10/12/2018 TBA TBA
Program Description:


Tropical Ecology is the study of the biotic and abiotic interactions that shape the origin, maintenance, and consequences of species diversity in the tropics. The incredibly high species
diversity found in tropical forests has intrigued biologists for centuries, including such luminaries as Darwin and Wallace, and continues to engage biologists today. In this course, we will explore a variety of different forest types within the Republic of Panama to gain an appreciation for the basic patterns and processes of tropical forests and the mechanisms believed to be responsible for them. This course is modeled after the Organization for Tropical Biology's Tropical Ecology Field Course.


Students will participate in a comprehensive orientation prior to departure.

Course offered

BIOL 4951 or BIOL 5951: Tropical Ecology in Panama (3 credits)

Course Structure: This is a hybrid "scientific immersion" laboratory course that consists of a 9-day trip to the Republic of Panama. The field component of the course is combined with online readings and a written report based on field research. The course will be broken into three component parts. The first component will take place on the Marquette campus in the form of online readings and online discussion with the professor and the TA. The second component will be the 9-day field portion of the course in the Republic of Panama during Spring Break (and the preceding and subsequent weekends). This portion of the course will consist of one to two lectures per day, excursions in tropical dry and moist forests on islands and mainland areas in the former Canal Zone, and independent projects on topics selected by the students. The third component part will take place during the remainder of the semester in Milwaukee, where the students will participate in online consultations with the professor and the TA while they work on a scientific paper based on their field project.

Prerequisites: Instructor permission. Some background knowledge in Biology is preferred.


The Tropical Ecology class will stay at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) facilities at Barro Colorado Island, in the middle of lake Gatun, and in Gamboa; the latter is a small town in located on the Panama canal next to relatively undisturbed rainforest.


Please refer to the above "Budget Sheets" link


The Republic of Panama is the southernmost of the Central American nations, Panama and is located south of Costa Rica and north of Colombia.  Panama is a small country, slightly smaller than South Carolina and has a population of around 3.5 million. It is marked by a chain of mountains in the west, moderate hills in the interior, and a low range on the east coast. There are extensive forests along the Canal, in the eastern portion of the country (near Colombia), and in the fertile Caribbean area.  The capital of Panama, Panama City, is a modern city of ~1.5 million people, with a mix of skyscrapers and more traditional colonial buildings located in the old portion of the city (Casco Viejo district).

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