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

Marine Resource Studies

The School for Field Studies (SFS) semester and summer programs in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) provide students with the opportunity to conduct field research that provides the local government, community, and tourism developers with recommendations that will help sustain the economic, social, and ecological stability of South Caicos. Snorkeling and SCUBA diving in waters surrounding South Caicos, students learn to identify and observe the behavior of marine species, assess coastal and marine habitats, and quantify fisheries resources through hours of training, observation, and study in the water. SEMESTER PROGRAM TCI has an extensive network of 34 protected areas, but little is known about their function and effectiveness. With the Admiral Cockburn Land and Sea National Park and East Harbour Lobster and Conch Reserve at their doorstep, students evaluate the concept and practice of marine protected areas (MPAs) as a resource management tool. Through field observation, exercises, and research, students will gain the concepts, skills, and data to understand the marine ecosystems , island community dynamics, and resource management. SUMMER PROGRAMS Each 4-credit summer session may be taken individually or in combination. Session I: Tropical Marine Ecosystems: Monitoring and Management Students in this study abroad program will learn about key aspects of environmental assessment and management of tropical marine ecosystems and explore sustainable development strategies for the Turks and Caicos at a local and global scale. Students support the work of our clients and stakeholders, who range from local fishers to members of key government agencies. Session II: Applied Marine Research Techniques Students in this study abroad program will learn about developing scientific approaches to identify key problems affecting the health of coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove forests that surround the island Students support the work of our clients and stakeholders, who range from local fishers to members of key government agencies.

The School for Field Studies

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

Conservation, Ethics, and Environmental Change

The School for Field Studies (SFS) program in Cambodia focuses on the Lower Mekong Basin, which extends over most of Cambodia and incorporates the great Tonle Sap Lake. The Basin hosts diverse ecosystems, including lowland evergreen forests, dry dipterocarp forests, seasonally flooded gallery forests, and estuarine mangroves which give rise to the Indo-Burma global biodiversity hotspot. Students examine the dynamics and ethical challenges surrounding environmental change and development in the Lower Mekong Basin. They also learn about the complexity of Cambodia's struggle to balance biodiversity, development, and human needs and livelihoods.

The School for Field Studies

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

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