Winter in the Tropics

Ursinus students will spend their winter break in Costa Rica, pursuing research projects at five biological field stations in a diverse array of tropical habitats.

The biannual trip, from Dec. 27 to Jan. 13, is hosted by the Organization for Tropical Studies. It brings 17 students in the spring 2018 “Biology of the Neotropics” environmental studies course to the Central American country along with Ursinus biology professors Robert Dawley and Ellen Dawley.

The students going on the trip represent a cross-section of academic disciplines including biology majors, environmental studies majors and biochemistry and molecular biology (BCMB) majors.

The Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) is a nonprofit consortium of nearly 60 universities, colleges and research institutions from around the world. It was founded to provide leadership in education, research and the responsible use of natural resources in the tropics. 

During the trip, the students will perform research at the following locations:

  • Palo Verde Biological Station, which features extensive wetlands adjacent to one the best patches of dry forest remaining in Central America.
  • Las Alturas Biological Station, a rustic field station adjacent to a primary forest in the Amistad Biosphere Reserve.
  • Las Cruces Biological Station, home to the Wilson Botanical Garden and mid-elevation wet forest.
  • Piro Research Station, operated by Osa Conservation—a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the globally significant biodiversity of the Osa Peninsula (located in southwestern Costa Rica)—and located in mature, lowland Pacific rainforest bordered by miles of deserted tropical beach.
  • La Selva Biological Station, the research headquarters of OTS, which includes 1,600 hectares of lowland Caribbean rainforest that receives four meters of rainfall per year.

Follow the hashtag #UrsinusinCostaRica on social media to keep up with the students’ travels and visit for photos and videos during the trip. —By Ed Moorhouse