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

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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