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Education Program – New Courses

Quantitative and Methods in Animal Behavior

Location: La Selva Research Station, Costa Rica
Dates: April 8-12, 2020
Application deadline: March 10, 2020
Scholarships may be available for students.
For more information: https://tropicalstudies.org/course/quantitative-and-computational-methods-in-animal-behavior/

Overview: 21st Century Field Biology – Quantitative Tools Meet Traditional Behavioral Ecology – The way we study animal behavior in the field is changing. What was once a primarily observational and data-poor discipline is rapidly becoming a highly-quantitative field of study through technological advances. In particular, the ability to use consumer-grade camera equipment to record animal behavior and then capitalize on the rapid advances in computer vision and tracking techniques means field experiments can now bridge the gap between the rigor of the lab and the authenticity of the field. The course will guide you through this modern take on field behavioral ecology, leading you through the scientific process from observation, hypothesis generation, experimental design, analysis, interpretation, and communication of your own field biological experiments, specifically in the context of social and collective interactions in rainforest animals. There will be a strong theoretical focus on employing machine-vision tracking of animal movement in natural contexts. Students will gain hands-on experience in experimental design, setting up camera and recording equipment, basic coding in Python to convert video into suitable formats, and be given an introduction into machine learning and animal tracking which they will implement to automatically track animal groups.

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Tropical Plant Systematics

Location: OTS Stations in Costa Rica (La Selva, Las Cruces, and Palo Verde), and Cuericí
Dates: June 12, 2020 – July 12, 2020
Application deadline: April 15, 2020
Scholarships may be available for students.
For more information: https://tropicalstudies.org/course/tropical-plant-systematic/

Overview: Tropical Plant Systematics is an intensive graduate-level field course focused on the identification, inventory, classification, and phylogenetic analysis of tropical vascular plants. All activities are carried out in Costa Rica over four weeks, during which time the course will be based at biological stations and nature reserves. This course is not solely aimed at botanists who work in systematics. We encourage students from other disciplines (such as agronomy, ecology, and conservation biology), whose research requires a high degree of knowledge of the classification and identification of tropical plants, to apply.

Tropical Biology: an Ecological Approach

Location: OTS Stations in Costa Rica (La Selva, Las Cruces, and Palo Verde), Monteverde and Cabo Blanco
Dates: June 15, 2020 – July 26, 2020
Application deadline: April 15, 2020
Scholarships may be available for students.
For more information: https://tropicalstudies.org/course/tropical-biology-an-ecological-approach/

Overview: The course that started it all! Since 1963, this OTS course has trained ecologists and evolutionary biologists using an active learning approach, which engages students in a fun and fast-paced research environment.

This OTS “fundamentals course” is an intensive, field-based experience in tropical biology for graduate students. With guidance from expert scientists, students will gain experience in critical thinking, research design, data analysis, analytical tools, science communication, ecological modeling, and collaborative research—all in the beautiful tropical setting of Costa Rica. We guarantee you will come away from the course a better scientist with new skills and ideas to carry into your future research and career. Following the course, students may visit the Barro Colorado Island (BCI) research station of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama. Transportation and station fees for this trip are covered by STRI. More information about these opportunities will be provided during the course. Course participants that complete the course successfully are eligible for pilot and research awards. The awards give students the opportunity to conduct research projects at OTS stations.

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