Spring 2024

Seminar in Tropical Biology

Listed in: Biology, as BIOL-454


Ethan D. Clotfelter (Section 01)
Rachel A. Levin (Section 01)


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. In this course we will examine some of the myriad biotic interactions that occur in the tropics using an ecological, evolutionary, and behavioral approach. The course is divided into two main components: a two-week interterm field course and an advanced seminar. During the field course students will be immersed in the tropical forests of Costa Rica, with a focus on organismal identification and comparisons between three sites (lowland Caribbean rainforest, cloud forest, and coastal dry forest). 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, frogs, and epiphytic plants. Back on campus, students will analyze tree diversity data collected in the field, as well as focus on a specific topic within tropical biology, around which students will design experimental research that will be presented in an NSF-style grant proposal. Three hours per week.

Requisite: BIOL 181 or ENST 110 (formerly ENST 200). Recommended: one or more of the following courses: BIOL 230/ENST 210, BIOL 201, BIOL 280/281, BIOL 320/321. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 12 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Clotfelter and Senior Lecturer Levin.

How to handle overenrollment: Instructors will solicit applications in the preceding semester. Priority will be given to Biology and Environmental Studies majors and those students who could benefit most from the opportunity to study biology abroad.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: readings, written work, oral presentations, group work, field work, independent research, quantitative work

BIOL 454 - LEC

Section 01
Th 2:30 PM - 5:30 PM SCCE D103