Canopy Biology

When:January 6-24, 2025
Where:La Selva, Las Cruces Research Stations and Cerro Vueltas Lodge, Costa Rica
Duration:3 weeks
Credits:2 Credits
Deadline:October 6th, 2024
Program Guide:
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Program Overview

You will be led by Dr. Catherine Cardelús and Dr. David Anderson, world-renowned names in the matter of canopy research, canopy access, and field techniques, and their willingness to teach. The course was thought in order for you to receive a strong theoretical approach to canopy biology but at the same time learn and have hands-on experience in how to get and be up there.

What questions can we make about the canopy? How do we get there? How do we develop research on the canopy? It is a whole new world above that you are about to visit.

The course travels with enough equipment to access the canopy and develop in the best and safest way the whole program.



This course is for undergraduate and graduate students. You must have at least one ecology course.

As an OTS student, you must be proactive in asking the questions (and finding the answers) that are important to you, but you must also be ready to share your own knowledge and experience with the rest of the group.


Day Site Morning Afternoon Evening
1 San José Student Arrival. OTS shuttles students to hotel Dinner In San José
2 Travel to Las Cruces Long drive Arrive, Unpack Cardelús & Anderson Present on their research
3 Las Cruces Acclimation walk Canopy Access Lecture: The Canopy Habitat
4 Las Cruces Canopy Access Canopy Access How to ask questions in the canopy
5 Las Cruces Asking questions in the canopy, small field problem Asking questions in the canopy, small field problem Workshop methods.
6 Travel to Cuericí Arrive, Unpack Upper Montane Cloud Forest Lecture
7 Cuericí Acclimation walk Establishing Lines Workshop methods/Group Projects
8 Cuericí Field Projects Field Projects Workshop Field Projects-Stats
9 Cuericí Field Projects Wrap up projects Presentations
10 Travel to La Selva
11 La Selva Acclimation walk Establishing Lines Group Project Discussion
12 La Selva Group Projects Group Projects Guest Lecture: Person on-site
13 La Selva Group Projects Group Projects Workshop group projects
14 La Selva Group Projects Wrap up projects Presentations
15 Travel to San José Dinner San José
16 Depart Costa Rica


Month Date Day Site
Jan 4 1 San José
Jan 5 2 Travel to Las Cruces
Jan 6 3 Las Cruces
Jan 7 4 Las Cruces
Jan 8 5 Las Cruces
Jan 9 6 Travel to Cuericí
Jan 10 7 Cuericí
Jan 11 8 Cuericí
Jan 12 9 Cuericí
Jan 13 10 Travel to La Selva
Jan 14 11 La Selva
Jan 15 12 La Selva
Jan 16 13 La Selva
Jan 17 14 La Selva
Jan 18 15 Travel to San José
Jan 19 16 Depart Costa Rica


The full cost of tuition for students from non-member institutions is $3,500. Students from OTS member institutions are charged $3,100.

Additional scholarships may be available for students from member and non-member institutions with demonstrated financial need.

The tuition includes all lodging, meals, transportation during the course, and all course materials.

Personal expenses such as laundry, mail, entertainment, international travel, insurance, medical expenses, etc., are not covered. Also, students planning additional time in Costa Rica before or after the course should allow $30-40 per day.

If you are interested in being considered for an additional scholarship, please make sure to include a request for a partial scholarship along with the rest of the required documents. The letter should outline your financial situation, previous scholarships/grants if any, and the amount you are seeking from outside sources to cover the costs of the course. The letter will help us assess your situation individually and determine your eligibility for a partial scholarship if you are selected for the course.

Please note that scholarships are awarded and applied only to the tuition/course cost. They cannot be applied in any other way. For example, scholarships cannot be applied toward travel expenses. Although we may be able to award a partial scholarship, we recommend that you seek outside funding for the course through your own means, such as applying for grants from your home department or organizing small fundraisers.



Catherine Cardelús, PhD., Coordinator

Catherine Cardelús is Professor in Biology and Environmental Studies and Director at the Upstate Institute. “I am interested in one of ecology’s fundamental questions: What are the patterns of biodiversity? As well as in one of today’s most pressing questions: How will biodiversity respond to a changing environment? Most of my work has focused specifically on tropical forest canopies where I use multiple ecological approaches to better understand the factors that control species richness and distribution.”




David Anderson, Ph.D., Coordinator

David Anderson is the founder and Executive Director of Canopy Watch.  David began climbing trees in 1995 while studying birds of prey in the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve of Honduras, Central America. He earned a M.S. degree in Raptor Biology and a Ph.D. in ornithology while studying birds of the rainforest canopy. He has published numerous scientific articles on the ecology of tropical rainforests and conducts research on safety aspects of tree climbing methods used in science. David has been teaching tree climbing for over a decade, using methods and equipment that are designed specifically for trees.

Housing & Meals

It is important to recognize that the OTS program differs from your typical on-campus life in a few ways. Though you may have prior experience of living with one or two roommates on campus, during the course you will be living closely with 10–15 others. You will share bathrooms and common areas, and it will sometimes be difficult to find personal space. This means communication and respect will be crucial. We also need to have sincere respect for one another, regardless of different opinions and lifestyles. This includes respect for privacy, respect for rules and regulations, and even respect for the fact that unpredictability is an inherent feature of field-based programs such as ours. Indeed, next to communication and cooperation, flexibility and a good sense of humor are the most important characteristics of a successful student in our program.


Passport & Visa Information

You must have a valid passport to travel to Costa Rica. It is important that the passport does not expire within six months of entering Costa Rica. If you are NOT a citizen of a North American or European country, you will probably need a special visa to get into Costa Rica. We recommend that you contact your respective consulate or embassy services to determine if you need a visa to travel to Costa Rica. It is important to consider the requirements to get a visa approved before you apply for one of our courses. If you are accepted into one of our courses, we will provide any information necessary, within reason, to help with the visa application. Please keep in mind that the visa application process can take several months, depending on the country of issue. For more information on this topic please visit this website.

U.S. citizens entering Costa Rica are automatically granted a 90-day tourist visa. Students planning to stay in Costa Rica after the program end date need to take this into account.

Review the requisites for traveling and entering Costa Rica in the following links:

Entry requirements:

US Embassy information:

Please consult OTS if you have any questions at


Health & Safety

OTS is deeply committed to student safety and well-being and does not expose students to unnecessary danger or risk. OTS monitors national and international events that might affect our students. Five decades of risk assessment, emergency response, and crisis resolution have enabled OTS to maximize student safety and security. All students participate in an onsite orientation program upon arrival in Costa Rica. For our most current safety information, contact the OTS Enrollment Management staff at