Bio 4451/8940 Field Ecology & Evolution, 2017-18

Format of the course sequence

  • Fall 2017: lecture course (2 credits) focused on preparation for field trip
  • January 2-15: 2-week field trip to Costa Rica
  • Spring 2018: laboratory course (2 credits) focused on post-trip discussions, write-up of field observations, analysis of field project data from the trip, presentation of project results (oral & written reports)


  • The lecture, field trip, and laboratory components are all required
  • Prerequisite for the course sequence
    • One or more courses in ecology, behavior, evolution, environmental science, or relevant organismal biology (e.g., entomology)
    • AND permission of the instructor


Students will be responsible for extra costs of the embedded travel portion. The total cost of the field trip will be $2420 (including all airfare, accommodations, food, etc.). This is a pretty standard cost for a 2-week tropical ecology course like this at many universities.

We are trying to make arrangements for ~ half of the trip cost to be billed with your F17 tuition. The second half will be associated with your registration for S18 classes, in late October.

Our booked flight on the way down is on Southwest departing from PHL, to San Jose. We will fly back from Liberia  to Newark (EWR) on United, arriving ~ 8 pm on 15 Jan. We will arrange for group transportation (VU van) back to Villanova from there, or you can have someone meet you (as long as we know your plans).

Plans for the field trip component, January 2018

2 Jan Flight departing 0630h from PHL to San José, arriving 1330h (Southwest Airlines); transfer by bus to Rio de Sueños
2-5 Jan Rio de Sueños (town of Coronado, Puntarenas Prov.; Pacific lowland moist forest)
6 Jan Possible day trip: Corcovado National Park (Osa Peninsula, south of Coronado; Pacific lowland rain forest)
7-9 Jan Paraiso Quetzal Lodge, San Gerardo de Dota (mountain forests)
9-13 Jan Bus from Pariso Quetzal to El Zota by way of Braulio Carillo National Park (cloud forest)

El Zota Biological Field Station (Caribbean lowland rain forest; student projects)

13-15 Jan Santa Rosa National Park (Guanacaste region; Pacific dry rain forest)
15 Jan transfer from Santa Rosa N.P.; flight from Liberia (LIR) to EWR (United Airlines)

Map of Costa Rica showing localities we will visit