COURSE LOCATION: Bocas del Toro Biological Station, Boca del Drago, Isla
Colon, Republic of Panama.  The biological station is located on a hill
facing the Caribbean Sea.  Coral reef and seagrass ecosystems lie out in
front of the station and lowland tropical rain forests surround us. This
juxtaposition of the two most biologically diverse ecosystems provides
tremendous opportunities for education and research. See:
http://www.itec-edu.org for details.

INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Peter N. Lahanas, Institute for Tropical Ecology and
Conservation (ITEC),  tel: 352-367-9128, email: lahanas@itec-edu.org, web:
http://itec-edu.org/tropical-herpetology/,  Specialty: Neotropical
herpetology, forest ecology, animal behavior, biogeography, molecular
genetics of sea turtles.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course will emphasize the ecology, behavior,
biogeography and systematics of the amazingly diverse Neotropical
herpetofauna. The material covered is equivalent to a university upper-level
course in herpetology.  The course is divided into three parts.  During the
first few days students will become familiar with the many ecosystems found
in our area and with the trail systems during “orientation” walks.  The bulk
of the first 10 days will be spent learning field techniques and carrying
out various group projects or exercises (see below).  Midway through the
course the entire station community will take field trip to the cloud
forests of Boquete (see details below).  On returning to the field station,
students work on their individual research projects and continue to receive
lectures or other activities in the evening.

Formal Lectures:  Formal lectures will take place in the classroom and will
include the use of PowerPoint presentations and chalkboard. Lectures will
generally be given in the evening so that more daylight hours can be spent
in the field.  Lecture topics will include:

o    History of Neotropical herpetology
o    Evolution of amphibians and reptiles
o    Overview and classification of amphibians
o    Overview and classification of reptiles
o    Historical biogeographic relationships
o    Reproduction strategies and mating systems
o    Ecology, reproduction and genetics in marine turtles
o    Life history strategies
o    Evolution of polymorphism in poison dart frogs
o    Herp-human interactions
o    Conservation issues

Informal Lectures:  Informal lectures will be provided periodically during
orientation walks, during group field projects or in discussion groups.
These will cover a wide variety of topics and will generally be prompted by
what we encounter in the field, or by the direction taken during group

Readings:  Readings corresponding to lecture subjects will be assigned in
the texts.  We will also read and critique papers brought by students and
faculty and additional readings may be assigned from time to time.

Required Texts:
Vitt, Laurie J. and Janalee P. Caldwell. 2014.  Herpetology.  4rd ed.
Elsevier and
Academic Press.
Köhler, Gunther. 2008. Reptiles of Central America, 2nd edition. Herpeton,
Elke Köhler.
Köhler, Gunther. 2011. Amphibians of Central America, 2nd edition. Herpeton,
verlag Elke Köhler.

Note: These books are expensive but will enhance your herping experience
during the course.  Copies are maintained in the field station library.

Field Book:  A water-proof field notebook will be required in the course.
The field book will contain all data related to group projects and
independent research project.  The field book should also contain all other
incidental observations such as species lists, behavioral notes, etc., and
contain detailed location information.

Group Field Projects, Exercises, Demonstrations and Excursions:  These
projects are designed by the faculty and worked on in groups of four to six
students.  The purpose of these projects is to familiarize students with an
array of field sampling techniques and equipment commonly used in field
studies.  With help from a faculty member, students set up projects, collect
data, and generally (depends on the project), analyze data, present the
results to the class, and write a report.

Group Project, Demonstration and Excursion Topics.
o    Forest night hikes
o    Population biology in poison-dart frogs
o    Tail flicking behavior in geckos
o    Comparative leaflitter herpetofuana
o    Soropta Beach, nesting leatherbacks
o    Canopy herpetofauna (canopy access techniques)
o    Cave ecology, bats, rats & snakes
o    Soropta canal, iguanas, caimans and crocodiles
o    Herpetofuanal biodiversity analysis
o    Mainland herp excursion
o    Resource partitioning in frog breeding colonies

Individual Research Projects:  Working closely with faculty, students will
be responsible for designing and completing an original herpetological
research project of their choosing.  These projects will be carried out
during the second half of the course and students will have about 10 days
for data collection.  A few days before the end of the course students will
analyze their data, write a technical report, prepare a PowerPoint
presentation of their work and orally present their findings at a
station-wide symposium on the last day of the course.  NO PERSONAL

BOQUETE CLOUD FOREST FIELD TRIP:  This three-day field trip takes place
midway through the course and will allow students the opportunity to
experience assemblages of amphibians and reptiles found in tropical cloud
and seasonally dry forests.  We travel in ITEC boats to the mainland and
then by private bus to the town of Boquete which lies at the base of 11,000
ft Volcan Baru.  The bus trip will take us up and over the central mountain
range and through remote Palo Seco National Park.  Several stops will be
made in route.

COURSE LENGTH: ITEC Summer field courses are about four weeks in length. The
NEH B-15 will run from June 15 through July 10, 2015.

TUITION: $2150 USD.  Tuition fee includes all lodging, meals and airport
transfers in Bocas del Toro.  The tuition also covers transportation and
lodging during the 3-day cloud forest field trip to Boquete.

REGISTRATION DEADLINE: May 15, 2015.  The course is limited to 10 students
and applications will be evaluated as they arrive.  If you believe that your
application may arrive late, notify ITEC.

GRADING and COURSE CREDIT:  Up to 6 units of credit will be given, 3 for the
lecture portion and 3 for the field portion.  A letter grade will be
assigned based on exams, reports, proposals, attendance at lectures, as well
as by less tangibles such as personal attitude, motivation, and contribution
to the course.  Course credit must be arranged through the student’s
institution.  Contact ITEC for details.

APPLICATIONS can be found at:

A list of amphibians and reptiles found at the field station and adjacent
mainland areas can be found at

CONTACT:  Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation, 2911 NW 40th PL,
Gainesville, FL 32605, tel: 352-367-9128, email: itec@itec-edu.org, web:
http://www.itec-edu.org.  ITEC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization
founded in 1996.