August 2019
Stay Connected to Students and Researchers in the Tropics – Get Social with OTS!
Support the Tropics!
OTS’ research stations in Costa Rica are ending the high season when we see the greatest level of activity. On any given day, you are likely to meet researchers and visitors from every corner of the globe. At our South African station, students recently completed the 15-week African Ecology and Conservation course which provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to conduct research in this highly threatened ecosystem.
At the heart of our research stations is our concern for how tropical ecosystems respond to a changing climate, how natural and human-dominated systems interact, and how scientists and political leaders can restore degraded ecosystems and reestablish their ecological importance.
OTS strives to be a source of knowledge and understanding concerning emerging environmental issues in the tropics. To reach this goal, we invite you to support OTS´ work. These are extraordinary times when extraordinary people must stand up and be counted in the pursuit of science and conservation.
 Please add your support today!
The field skills and connections I gained during my semester in South Africa with OTS led directly to employment with the Nature Conservancy upon graduation. After leaving the Nature Conservancy, those same field skills and connections got me into the Master of Forestry program at Duke University as well as the Duke MBA program. OTS has been foundational to my career. If you want marketable skills, a mind-broadening experience, and lifelong connections, OTS is the program for you!” - Hunter Bowman, OTS Alumnus.
New App makes it easy to identify native Costa Rican plants!
A new app that OTS helped develop allows the user to identify approximately 3,800 species of Costa Rica´s native plants. With images provided by OTS and in collaboration with researchers from the Technological Institute of Costa Rica (TEC), the Encyclopedia of Life Organization, engineer Nelson Zamora and Pl@ntNet, a new module called Plants of Costa Rica was created in the free phone app Pl@ntNet.

Pl@ntNet is a system that currently has more than 16,000 species of plants registered from around the world and, with OTS’ help, now includes Costa Rica. Our hope is that increased understanding and knowledge will help deepen our appreciation of the tropics, promote ecotourism and further the conservation of Costa Rican biodiversity.

The application is easy to use. Once you download the app, you can then enter a photo of the plant and the program will automatically compare visual and graphic patterns in the photograph with those of the flowers, fruits, leaves and other parts of thousands of plants within the existing database in the application. In this way you can instantly identify what type of native plant you are observing.
Update on the fire at the Las Cruces Research Station
On May 2, there was a fire at the Las Cruces Research Station that consumed about 6 hectares of forest in regeneration. A few years ago, this area was a paddock so the fire spread very quickly. Thank you to the OTS staff and former staff, firemen and all the neighbors and volunteers who banded together to put out the fire.

Today we are very happy report that significant progress has been made in recovering this area. Thanks to the help of many volunteers, 285 trees were planted towards the overall goal of planting 400 trees in this area. Some of the volunteer groups that have helped are:

·  Students of Berry College of Georgia
·  Students of the Technical High School of Sabalito /Finca Integrada Agroecoturística CTP Sabalito
·  Municipality of Coto Brus
·  Ministry of Health and Health Area of Coto Brus
Las Cruces Research Station Open House
On June 1, the Las Cruces Research Station and the Wilson Botanical Garden hosted the Third Annual Open House Day. It was a great success, with over 700 people from the community visiting the station! The purpose of this outreach is to share our science, conservation and sustainability efforts with the community through guided walks, workshops, talks and exhibitions. All of these events were conducted by a committed group of staff, volunteers, and researchers. We are very grateful to our sponsors and co-sponsors: Fruterra, Grupo Materiales, Socovi, BM Supermarkets, San Vito Bird Club, Distributor Marroa S.A., Multiservicios Villalobos, Sinem - Cema Coto Brus, Pura Vida Sur and Elena Yoga Class. You can read more.
Lizard in Costa Rica is an underwater marvel
A Costa Rican lizard able to breathe underwater for up to 16 minutes was observed by Lindsey Swierk, assistant professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Binghamton New York, one of the field mentors of the REU Las Cruces 2019 summer course. Swierk and the team of researchers that accompanied her recorded the dives and observed that during its time underwater, the Anolis aquaticus seemed to breathe through an air bubble that covered its head. The diving was observed in at least 600 individuals found in three different sites in Coto Brus. You can read more about this breakthrough research here. ( complete note is in Spanish)
La Selva Research Station has been recognized with a 2019 Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor
We are pleased to announce that La Selva Research Station has been recognized with a 2019 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor. This award is based on the consistently great reviews we have earned on the world's largest travel site. TripAdvisor, Inc. is an American travel and restaurant website company that shows hotel and restaurant reviews, accommodation bookings and other travel-related content. Evaluation criteria includes the quality of our guided visits, customer service, cleanliness and food service. Thanks to our staff for their amazing job, which made this recognition possible.
Stories from the Field: OTS Tropical Ecology & Conservation
 Spring 2019
My Journey
Maria Victoria "Vicky" Ortiz Cruz, Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve, Cuba

Novel were the tools that the Tropical Ecology and Conservation course offered us. These will allow us to make better science in Latin America and reflect positively on the image of each of our countries . In addition, endless were the teachings transmitted by each of the instructors who arrived during the course. This course, also gave me the opportunity to delve into new topics such as ecological restoration, indices of true diversity, intraspecific competition, future scenarios, predation and herbivory among others. Also, I learned about how to communicate science to all kinds of publics, something that for biologists is a challenge.This course has a rare magic that unites people. Read more here.
Notes from the Board
Reprinted from May 2019 E-Canopy
The next Notes from the Board will be available in the September E-Canopy
Welcome to Notes from the Board, where we will share the latest news from the OTS Board of Directors. In this issue, we will report on the March 2019 meetings of the Board of Directors, including the public Annual Meeting held on March 16, 2019.
First, help us congratulate new Member Director, Gabriel Macaya (UCR) and new Stakeholder Director Muriel Poston (Pitzer). Ivan Sandoval (UNA) and Kyle Harms (LSU) who had been previously appointed to fill board vacancies due to resignations were also elected to new terms as Member Directors. At the March meetings, the Board of Directors also elected to new terms as Stakeholder Directors, George Middendorf (Howard), Bryan Heidorn (UArizona), and Jim Prager and also elected officers for the new year: Board Chair -- Beth Braker, Secretary -- Chelsea Ward, and Treasurer -- Jim Prager.
Second, thanks to all who attended and participated in the Annual Meeting at the University of Costa Rica. The Annual Meeting included symposium talks on March 15 by some of OTS’s most active researchers, followed by a reception with our UCR colleagues. If you would like to listen to the talks, they are posted on the OTS website at: . You can read here more Notes from the Board.
You can support OTS by shopping at Amazon.Smile
Donate to OTS while shopping on @amazon with @amazonsmile. A portion of your purchase supports OTS. Click the link to begin shopping:
Undergraduate Program

African Ecology and Conservation (South Africa):
Course duration: 15 weeks | Spring 2020 (Jan 22 - Apr 30)

The African Ecology and Conservation program centers on learning to do quality field research in South Africa’s varied biomes.Students are mentored by local and international academics, conservation managers, and other practitioners in ecology and conservation. By designing research projects with their professors, students will contribute meaningful scientific data to issues faced by managers in South African National Parks. A highlight of the course is a three-night homestay in a rural community; students leave touched by their time shared with the community and gain a deeper sense of cultural and social awareness.

Application Deadline: Nov 1, 2019 for Spring 2020

For more information of the course, please visit our website.
Faculty Led Academic Groups
OTS´ academic logistics staff has assisted hundreds of faculty members throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Costa Rica to enhance their course trips by arranging everything from hotel reservations, transportation, meals, day activities, and research permits.   
Click here  to learn more about how OTS can enrich your class today! 
Organization for Tropical Studies | 919-684-5774 | |