Canopy Ecology

Status:Applications Open
When:January 4-20, 2025
Where:La Selva Research Station, Monteverde Biological Station and Cuerici in Costa Rica
Duration:3 weeks
Credits:2 Credits
Deadline:October 6th, 2024
Program Guide:
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Program Overview

This course is designed for scientists interested in asking questions and conducting research in the canopy. This course offers a solid grounding in canopy research, ecological theory, in situ methods, and advanced canopy access techniques. Students who take this course will learn how to design and implement a variety of studies in the canopy, from mammal behavior to plant biodiversity, and will work on group projects from inception to the final paper, including data collection, analysis, and presentation. Students will conduct canopy research in three forest types: upper montane cloud forest, montane cloud forest, and lowland rainforest.

All students will build on their canopy access skills. Students will learn best practices to safely work in the canopy, how to rig trees, how to move efficiently within the canopy using secondary lines, and proper equipment maintenance.The course has three canopy access instructors with experience working with researchers and doing research in the canopy with both plants and animals, and all equipment for participants will be provided for the duration of the course.

Dr. Catherine Cardelús, the lead instructor, will teach with Jeremy Quiros Navarro. Dr. Cardelús is a canopy biologist who has conducted research in the canopy for >20 years, and teaches canopy access and research. Jeremy Quiros Navarro (featured here) is a certified canopy access professional, teacher, and researcher.



Climbing gigantic oaks in Costa Rica (Quercus bumelioides)


This course is for advanced undergraduate students, graduate students, and researchers with a solid foundation in ecology (at least one couse). Some tree climbing experience is expected. 

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 knowledge and experience with the rest of the group.


The full cost of tuition for students from non-member institutions is $4,200. Students from OTS member institutions are charged $3,500.

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

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, Ph.D., Coordinator

Catherine Cardelús is Professor of 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 understand better the factors that control species richness and distribution.”


Jeremy Quirós, Ph.D. Student, Assistant

Botanical researcher and tree climber with more than 9 years working in the canopy in different projects in Costa Rica and Central America. He has worked in canopy research and conservation projects with groups such as birds, mammals, plants and plant physiology. He is currently the instructor of the canopy access course for biological research in Costa Rica.

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