Our Tropical Field Biology – Panama 2014 course is officially underway! Eighteen students arrived yesterday at the Tocumen Airport, some after lengthy travels. We picked up our transportation late in the evening and proceeded to the Gamboa School Building. There were welcome sandwiches and coffee/tea waiting for exhausted but happy travelers.
After a good night’s rest and the first (hearty) Panamanian breakfast we started exploring the rainforest. Our first, short but impressive destination was the nearby Pipeline Road, a storied lowland rainforest trail into the Soberanía National Park. It took us about 2 hours get maybe 0.5 km into the trail – a testimony to the forest’s diversity and our excitement. Heavy rains started around 12:30 pm. This was our signal to return for lunch.
The first of about 10 course lectures is starting in the afternoon. Topic: Tropical Biodiversity & Biogeography.
I will post and link to pictures periodically.
Night update: After dinner we split up into two groups; one driving towards the “frog pond” near Gamboa, the other returning to Pipeline Road to look for frogs and arthropods. Highlight of the night: the pictured tarantula which was perched on the wall of a small storage shed by the trail entrance gate. Possibly this is the species Psalmopoeus pulcher Petrunkevitch, 1925. It is also known as “Panama Blond”. Both scary and beautiful, and a fitting end to our first day in Gamboa.
The Spring 2014 semester is ending and plans and actions are underway to collect beetles, moths, and other insects in throughout the U.S. Southwest and in Mesoamerica. Here is a quick rundown of lab members, field trips, and dates for the hopefully productive summer of 2014. Post still in development.
Dale DeNardo and Nico Franz are offering a new, advanced undergraduate course “Tropical Biology” in the summer of 2014. The course is scheduled to take place from June 07-27, 2014, on location in Gamboa, Panama (Canal Zone, Soberanía National Park). It is part of ASU’s Partnership program with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Interested students can contact Dr. Franz, and should also follow updates on ASU’s Study Abroad Office website. Below are links to two pertinent PDFs and a general text introducing the course.
Update – November 26, 2013: We now have an official SAO Web Brochure for the course at https://studyabroad.asu.edu/?go=TropicalBiology. Students can apply using this link.
Update – December 04, 2013: The course is now officially SAO approved, with a course program fee set at $4370. The Flyer has been updated. On-line applications now possible via the SAO link above.
Update – December 06, 2013: ASU’s Study Abroad Office has a comprehensive summary page regarding student financing options – Financial Aid, Scholarships and Grants, Community-Based Funding, etc. – for participating in the Tropical Biology course. Students are strongly encouraged to explore this resource and/or contact SAO directly to learn about specific financing options. More information on this soon.
“This new faculty-led Tropical Biology course takes what students have learned in the classroom setting and allows them to expand their knowledge by becoming fully immersed in a field environment. While the field site is a tropical rainforest, the educational value goes beyond tropical biology as students are exposed to topics that broadly integrate ecology, biodiversity, evolution, behavior, and physiology, including but not limited to species diversity, adaptation, biogeography, conservation, and human-wildlife interactions. Even the most complex laboratory environment and design cannot come close to matching the complexity of the tropical forest and the educational stimulation it provides. Students who attend this course will receive a lifetime experience and therefore concepts and skill sets covered will be embedded in their memory.”
Update – June 28, 2014: The trip to Panama has ended successfully. See Tropical Field Biology – Panama 2014 in Review.