Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies

Environmental Field Studies Abroad

Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies

The School for Field Studies (SFS) semester and summer programs in Bocas del Toro provides students with an exciting opportunity to conduct research and explore the rural Caribbean and the isthmus of Panama. Bocas del Toro is home to biologically diverse marine and terrestrial ecosystems, such as coral reefs, mangrove cays, white sand beaches, and tropical rainforests. However, poor management of both the development of these areas and the subsequent resource use by residents and tourists has put increasing pressures on these ecosystems, threatening the human, animal, and plant communities that depend on them. The curriculum of the program focuses on defining key island systems, both natural and human, and how they interface. Our research in Bocas del Toro has already revealed patterns and processes at the nexus of biodiversity, conservation, and human welfare that merit ongoing study. Through field observations and research, students identify and understand the pressures, both direct and indirect, on the environment and social systems. SEMESTER PROGRAM The central theme of the semester program is "islands as a delicate system," with emphasis on the resources of Panama's coastal and marine environments. Students will explore several key interfaces: human and natural systems, terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and conservation and development. SUMMER PROGRAM This 4-credit summer session may be taken individually or in combination with a Session II course. Session I: Tourism and Island Systems: Assessment of Sustainable Practices Students in this summer program examine key aspects of tourism and environmental assessment of tropical ecosystems, and explore sustainable development strategies for the Bocas del Toro Archipelago at local and global scales.

Subjects

  • Biology (General)
  • Marine Biology
  • Marine Science
  • Tropical Biology
  • Environmental Studies
  • Environmental Management
  • Environmental Management Systems / Policy
  • Latin American Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Research Study
  • Natural Sciences
  • Natural Resources
  • Social Sciences

Related Programs

Rainforest Studies

The School for Field Studies (SFS) semester and summer programs in Queensland, Australia, provide exciting opportunities for students to study and work hands-on in rainforest management and restoration in the country’s tropical rainforest. SFS students, in collaboration with local landholders and stakeholder organizations, focus on enhancing the condition of tropical rainforests, as well as determining how to regenerate and restore the rainforest in the region. SEMESTER PROGRAM The program curriculum and research agenda address a critical local and regional environmental problem--loss and fragmentation of once extensive rainforests--and examine environmental policies related to the issue on local and national levels. SFS staff and students, in collaboration with local landholders and stakeholder organizations, focus on enhancing the condition of coastal rainforests, as well as determining how to regenerate and restore the rainforest on the Atherton Tablelands. SUMMER PROGRAMS Each 4-credit session can be taken individually or in combination. Session I: Rainforest Management Studies in Australia & New Zealand Large areas of northeastern Queensland, Australia, and northern New Zealand were once covered in spectacular rainforests. In New Zealand, students discover its critically endangered flora and fauna and the impacts that have led to their decline. In Australia, students take their New Zealand experiences and examine similarities and differences in political structure, co-management arrangements, land-use patterns, and biogeography. Session II: Techniques for Rainforest Research in Australia Students explore Australia’s tropical rainforests, examine the effects of fragmentation in highly endangered rainforest systems, and develop effective field research skills in multiple disciplines while learning about rainforest restoration and conservation.

The School for Field Studies

100 Cummings Center, Suite 534-G, Beverly, MA 01915 USA

Wildlife Management Studies

The School for Field Studies (SFS) semester and summer programs in Tanzania allow students to examine the drivers of habitat degradation and land-use change, as well as the implications for both local economic livelihoods and wildlife conservation. Students gain a general overview of cultural perceptions, conservation issues, wildlife dispersal areas, and biodiversity conservation in Tanzania, and have a chance to learn and apply in the field multiple techniques and approaches to studying wildlife, natural resources, and ecosystems. SEMESTER PROGRAM The curriculum and research of the Wildlife Management Studies semester program focus on determining how changes in land-use and resource availability in the Maasai steppe ecosystems can be managed in such a way as to foster the well-being of local communities while safeguarding and promoting biodiversity conservation. SUMMER PROGRAMS Each 4-credit session can be taken individually or in combination. Session I: Wildlife Management and Conservation Students in this program are exposed to wildlife management practices and the complex issues involving sustainable wildlife conservation in the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem of Tanzania. The course combines concepts and principles of ecology, natural resource management, and socioeconomics which are central to effective and sustainable wildlife conservation. During the course, students develop skills to explore the ecology, social organization, and behavior of common African large mammals. Session II: Techniques for Wildlife Field Research Students learn a suite of wildlife field techniques and methods routinely used to assess wildlife ecology and management policies and practices in East Africa with specific application to the Tanzania Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem conservation areas. The focus is multidisciplinary and reflects the complex realities of balancing ecological, economic, and socio-cultural factors in sustainable wildlife conservation and management studies.

The School for Field Studies

100 Cummings Center, Suite 534-G, Beverly, MA 01915 USA

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