Most biodiversity on our planet can be found in tropical latitudes. Tropical rainforests, for example, which account for less than 10% of the Earth’s surface, may contain 50-75% of all plant and animal species. This course will examine some of the myriad biotic interactions that occur in the tropics using an ecological, evolutionary, and behavioral approach. The course will also touch on important applied issues such as reforestation, sustainable agriculture, and ecotourism. In order to provide students with greater first-hand knowledge, the course will begin with a 2-3 week field trip to Costa Rica (at an additional cost to students; financial aid available; all interested students should contact Professor Clotfelter regardless of financial circumstances) during the January Interterm. The field component will focus on three habitat types: lowland tropical forests, montane cloud forests, and tropical dry forests. While in Costa Rica, we will utilize the expertise of local specialists to learn more about taxonomic groups that are particularly significant in the tropics, such as bats, ants, and epiphytic plants. Students will conduct independent research projects during the field component of the course, as well as a written and oral project during the seminar component of the course. Three hours per week.
Requisite: Two or more of the following courses: BIOL 181, 230, 281 or 320/321. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 12 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Clotfelter and Lecturer Levin.