In February 2010, Drs. Stephanie Doucet and Daniel Mennill led twelve students on a field study of the biology of tropical Costa Rica in a course offered through the Ontatio Universities Program in Field Biology. Based in the Guanacaste Conservation Area, the course focused on studying the ecology of the neotropical dry forest, and included trips to neotropical rain forest, cloud forest, and mangrove forest. This page is a photo album showing the hands-on learning that took place during the course.

The participants in the 2010 Tropical Ecology of Costa Rica field course. From left to right: Dan Mennill, Stephanie Doucet, Karolina Jurkowski, Natalie Peon, Ashley Ragetlie, Caroline Corbett, Frances Hauser, Dalal Hanna, Laurel Parr, Ashley Alberto, Jeff Curran, Cassie Cummings, Sarah Baldo, Megan Scheick.

The trip began poorly. Snow storms in the U.S. cancelled our flight and trapped us in Detroit for two nights and Atlanta for three nights.

We saw the "Accidental Mummies of Guanajuato" exhibit at the Detroit Science Centre, a planetarium show about black holes...

...and an excellent IMAX film on the Alps.
On our second day of being stranded in Detroit, we visited the Bird Division of the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology.
Janet Hinshaw showed us the bird skin collection, one of the largest in North America.
Jeff shows a Keel-billed Toucan skin to the rest of the group.
On our first day of being stranded in Atlanta, we explored the Georgia Aquarium. It is North America's largest indoor aquarium and it was amazing.

Huge tanks welcome us to the Georgia Aquarium.

Karolina, Natalie, and Sarah in the tropical fish exhibit.

Tremendous colours in the coral reef fish tank.

Feeding time for the Whale Sharks at the largest indoor tank in North America.
Getting touchy-feely at the sea anemone exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium.
The 3-D show "Deepo's Undersea Adventure" isn't designed for adults, but the glasses look cool.
During our second day of being stranded in Atlanta we mastered the MARTA public transportation system and visited the Fernwood Museum of Natural History.
Hanging out under the brontosaurus ribs at the Fernwood Museum.
If you're ever stranded in Atlanta, these fourteen people highly recommend "The Pecan" restaurant. The food is so extraordinary, we ate there twice.

Finally, we arrive in Costa Rica!  Five days late... but full of expectation.

Searching for Basilisk lizards in the Cuajiniquil riverbed.

Watching for lizards walking on water at Basilisk Cliff.
Peering over the edge of "Dad's Cliff" at a Ringed Kingfisher a hundred feet below.

Wildlife watching at "Dad's Cliff".

A pair of White-faced Capuchin monkeys.

Hiking to the mangrove forest on the Naranjo road.

Hiking in the mangroves at Playa Naranjo.
Watching the claw fights of sand crabs in the mangroves at Playa Naranjo.

Playing back calls to Spectacled Owls in the dry forest.

A Pacific Screech Owl camouflaged in a palm tree.

Dalal conducts a bird song playback experiment.

The ant-following Gray-headed Tanager.

Frances and Cassie study a Leaf-cutter Ant colony.

Banding a male Royal Flycatcher in the Humid Forest of Santa Rosa National Park.

Observing ants at Pitilla Biological Station on the Caribbean slope of Volcano Orosi.

We saw three species of toucan within three hours at Pitilla Biological Station.
Watching the sun set over the volcanos at Pitilla.

Frances releases a female White-collared Manakin.

Sarah releases a biting tanager.

Ashley releases a female White-ruffed Manakin.

A hike in the rainforest at Las Bromelias Ecolodge on the slope of Rincon de la Vieja volcano.

A tiny frog on the rainforest floor.

Colourful butterflies on a heliconia leaf.

An Eyelash Pit Viper camouflaged in the moss.

Who's hiding under that folded heliconia leaf?
White tent bats!

Climbing up through the forest streams...

...through the mist on the lava floes...

...into the cloud forests near the top of Rincon de la Vieja volcano!

A farewell dinnerat Pizza Pronto with our drivers Eladio and Johnny...

...followed by a once-in-a-lifetime concert in La Casona at Santa Rosa.

Costa Rican pianist Manuel Obregon, with drummer Carlos "Tapado" Vargas and bassist Jaime Gamboa, played a live outdoor concert inside the historic Casona in Santa Rosa National Park, accompanied by a slideshow of photographs of Guanacaste province and other parts of Costa Rica by Luciano Capelli. The concert took place in the open-air courtyard in the middle of La Casona, under the light of a nearly full moon. What a finale for the field course!

The participants in the 2010 Tropical Ecology of Costa Rica field course. Back row from left to right: Dan Mennill, Stephanie Doucet, Jeff Curran, Natalie Peon, Ashely Ragetlie, Karolina Jurkowski, Frances Hauser. Front row from left to right: Caroline Corbett, Dalal Hanna, Cassie Cummings, Ashely Albertom Megan Scheick, Laurel Parr, Sarah Baldo.

Dan Mennill, Stéphanie Doucet, and the students of the 2010 Tropical Ecology of Costa Rica field course wish to sincerely thank the staff of the Guanacaste Conservation Area, especially Roger and Maria Luisa, as well as Maria Los our cook at Pitilla Biological Station. We would like to thank Oscar, Johnny, Theresa, and Gabriella at Las Bromelias Ecolodge, an outstanding place for viewing wildlife on Rincon de la Vieja volcano. Oscar can be reached at 506-2200-0822 or 506-8389-2208; he offers outstanding tours and accommodation on Rincon de la Vieja volcano. Our driver, Eladio, provided excellent transportation around Guanacaste; he can be found through information on this website he provides excellent guided tours, transportation around the Guanacaste area for wildlife watching or surfing, and even accomodation near Liberia. We send a very specail thank-you to Gail Ducharme of Elison Travel who came to our rescue when Delta cancelled our flight; we wouldn't have survived without you Gail! We also thank Janet Hinshaw and Joseph Brown of the University of Michigan for coming to the rescue with an emergency visit to the bird collection in Ann Arbor during our delay. 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 Stéphanie will take place in Costa Rica in February/March of 2011.

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