University of Windsor Tropical Ecology Course 2006
Photos from the Guanacaste Conservation Area, Costa Rica

Fourteen students from the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Windsor participated in a hands-on field biology course in northwestern Costa Rica from February 18 to March 6, 2006. Students explored the ecology of many tropical ecosystems, including a special focus on tropical dry forest, tropical rainforest, and montane tropical cloud forest. Each student conducted an independent project based on their own observations. Independent projects covered a tremendous diversity of topics: behavioural ecology of tropical birds, stream ecology, tadpole ecology, pollination behaviour of tropical insects and birds, morphological ecology of stream-living guppies, predation on tropical snakes, physical adaptations in tropical birds, spider ecology, buttress-root tree allometry, leaf-cutter ant behaviour, army ant behaviour, and carrion insect diversity. The course was taught by Dan Mennill of the University of Windsor and co-instructor Stephanie Doucet of Auburn University. Below you can see photographs that chronicle University of Windsor Tropical Ecology students in action.

Students on the field course gather beneath a massive strangler fig tree in northwest Costa Rica.

Watching the sun rise atop the Monument to the Heroes at Santa Rosa National Park.

Observing a troup of howler monkeys.

Visiting a frigatebird colony at Isla Bolanos near La Cruz.

Finding seashells and sea snakes on Isla Bolanos.

Leanne, Matt, Lindsay, and Julie atop the Monument to the Heroes at Santa Rosa National Park.

Contemplating what to do with coloured plasticine?

Making snakes for a predation experiment.

Plasticine snakes, ready to be placed in the field.

Derek and an early-morning Paraque.

Kathryn and a Tawny-crowned Greenlet.

Our wheels in Costa Rica, courtesy of Dollar-Rent-A-Car and Eladio at Safaris Iguaray.

Allison records the voices of Social Flycatchers.

Jason returns from a mist net run with a hat trick

The field course arrives at Pitilla Biological Station, in the Caribbean rainforest. From Left to right: Michelle Moscicki, Angela Brommit, Dan Mennill, Christine Beaumont, Stephanie Doucet, Julie Marentette, Matt Thibert, Leanne Baker, Derek Hogan, Karen Cogtliati, Lindsay LeClair, Sarah Tremain, Kathryn Winger, Allison Mistakidis, Jason Mouland, and Claudia Bustos.

Claudia inspecting insects.

Michelle and Karen monitor leaf-cutter ants.

Measuring birds at Pitilla.

Julie heads to the stream to catch guppies.

Lindsay uses her home-made clinometer to measure tree height.

Christine sampling the habitat preferences of tadpoles.

Angela stores her insect samples.

Michelle and Karen measure a leaf-cutter colony.

Claudia measures spider webs.

The crew arrives at Cacao Biological Station, high on Cacao Volcano.

Julie and Leanne sample stream productivity.

Kathryn and Stephanie measure manakins.

Watching the sun set over the Pacific from the Cacao Biological Station.

Claudia releases a ruddy woodcreeper.

Sarah and her home-made tadpole net.

Kathryn, Lindsay, and Angela examine a bird.

Jason releases a wood thrush.

Derek, Sarah, Matt, and Kat find shelter under a tree near the top of Cacao Volcano.

The sun sets behind the Santa Elena Mountains.

Dan Mennill, Stephanie Doucet, and the students of the 2006 Tropical Ecology class express their thanks to the staff of the Guanacaste Conservation Area. Our driver, Eladio, provides excellent transportation around the Guanacaste area through his company Safari Irigaray; he can be reached at 506-691-0097. Ontario students interested in field biology courses should visit the Ontario Universities Program in Field Biology webpage ( and University of Windsor students should visit the bulletin board on the first floor of the Biology Building. The next Tropical Ecology field course to be run by Dan and Stephanie will take place in Peru in February/March of 2007. The next Tropical Ecology field course to be run in Costa Rica by Dan and Stephanie will take place in February/March of 2008.

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