ARCHIVE - Tropical Rainforests Syllabus

Tropical Rainforests, Winter Quarter, 2004


John T. Longino
Lab I rm 3056, 867-6511,

David Phillips (Spanish Instructor)

Elizabeth Anderson Olivas (Costa Rica field trip co-faculty)


Tuesday, 9am-11am, Lab 1 rm 1051, Spanish.
Wednesday, 10am-1pm, Lecture LH2.
Thursday, 9am-11am, CRC 109, Spanish.
Thursday, 1-4pm, Lab I rm3046, Lab/workshop.
Friday, 10am-noon, Statistics workshop, Lab 1, 2033 and 3033.
Friday, 1-4pm, Lab I rm3046, Lab/workshop.

Friday of week 6 will be an all-day field trip.


Each student accepted into the program must pay a total of $1172 into their student account at the cashiers office. By registering in the program, this amount will be automatically charged to your student account. Officially you will have 30 days to pay it, but the actual Deadline for payment of fees is Friday, 9 January 2004. Bring your receipt to class by Friday afternoon. Those not paying fees on time will be dropped from the program.

This fee covers all essential room, board, and transportation expenses in Costa Rica. It is an amount agreed upon in a contract between The Evergreen State College and The Monteverde Institute, a Costa Rican private non-profit organization that provides logistical support for our program. Plan on bringing additional funds for incidental expenses (personal supplies, gifts, snacks, etc.). Airfare is not included and you will be responsible for your own transportation to and from Costa Rica.


Our last scheduled on-campus class activity will be the Rainforest Bazaar (more on that later) on Friday afternoon, 20 Feb. All students should be in Costa Rica by Monday night, 23 Feb. Longino will fly to Costa Rica on that day and will announce his flight details for those wishing to book on the same flight. The program officially ends on the morning of Saturday, 13 March, so your departing flight can be any time from Saturday morning on. Evaluation conferences will be held at La Selva Biological Station at the end of the field trip, so there is no need to return to Olympia for evaluations.

You may wish to enroll in the Spring quarter program, Rainforest Research, which allows you to stay in Costa Rica and carry out an independent project. This will influence what return date you want for your airline ticket.

This is a packing list that the Monteverde Institute recommends for field courses (click here). It is a good guide to what you will need for our field trip. One thing on the list that is hard to get and probably not essential is the mosquito net. We will be in tents at one of our field trip sites, but in the past Monteverde Institute has had tents and mosquito nets for students.


Fowler, J., L. Cohen, P. Jarvis 1998. Practical Statistics for Field Biology. John Wiley and Sons, New York.

Janzen, D. H., editor. 1983. Costa Rican Natural History. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Kricher, J. 1997. A neotropical companion, second edition. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.


8* Ecology and Evolutionary Biology of Tropical Rainforests
4* Introductory Statistics for Field Biology
4 Introductory Spanish
* upper division science credit


Week 1.
Thu, am: First class meeting, Spanish. Thu, pm: Introduction. Geography and Climate.
Fri am: statistics, FCJ 1-6.
Fri pm: class photos, species mixer, Diversity lab (part 1).
Reading: Hitt, Gospel according to Earth; Kricher chapter 1; Janzen introductory chapters

Week 2.
Tue: Spanish
Wed: Forest structure, habitats, and diversity
Thu, am: Spanish.
Thu, pm: Diversity lab (part 2) MEET IN COMPUTER APPLICATIONS LAB
Fri am: statistics, FCJ 7-11.
Fri pm: problem sets.
Reading: Kricher chapter 2, 9, 10, 11 (mangroves)

Week 3.
Tue: Spanish
Wed: Major taxa (Botany (click here), Entomology (click here)).
Problem set links:
Tree of Life Project
Introduction to Cladistics
Thu, am: Spanish.
Thu, pm: problem sets.
Fri am: statistics, FCJ 12-13.
Fri pm: Diversity lab (part 3). Bring forceps, scissors to lab.
Reading: Kricher chapter 3 (pp 69-74), 12, 13

Week 4.
Tue: Spanish
Wed: Major taxa (continued). First draft of species account due to student reviewers.
Thu, am: Spanish.
Thu, pm: Diversity lab (part 3) MEET IN COMPUTER APPLICATIONS LAB.
Fri am: statistics, FCJ 14-15.
Fri pm: problem sets. Reviewed drafts due to authors.
Reading: Kricher chapter 4 (pp 75-86), Chapter 5

Week 5.
Tue: Spanish
Wed: Flowers and fruits. Second draft and two reviewer copies of species account due.
Thu, am: Spanish.
Thu, pm: Diversity lab (part 4) MEET IN COMPUTER APPLICATIONS LAB.
Thursday night at the movies: 7pm, LH4
Fri am: statistics, FCJ 16.
Fri pm: problem sets.
Reading: Kricher chapter 6

Week 6.
Tue: Spanish
Wed: Ants and Plants. Army Ants. Newspaper article due.
Wednesday night at the movies: 7pm, TBA
Thu, am: Spanish.
Thu, pm: problem sets, statistics, FCJ 17.
Fri all day: Fieldtrip to Woodland Park Zoo. Diversity Lab writeup due.
Reading: Kricher chapter 3 (pp 44-69), chapter 4 (pp 86-125)

Week 7.
Tue: Spanish
Wed: Why so many species? Final draft and faculty edited copy of species account due.
Wednesday night at the movies: 7pm, LH4
Thu, am: Spanish.
Thu, pm: Review session.
Fri am: exam, 10am-noon.
Fri pm: Rainforest Bazaar.
Reading: Kricher chapter 14


We will travel to Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo and visit the tropical rainforests exhibit. This will serve in part to increase familiarity with tropical plants and animals, and also to examine how tropical rainforests are interpreted and presented to the public. We will depart the Evergreen traffic circle in two vans at 8:30am and return by 5:00pm. Bring a lunch.


Full credit will be awarded if the following assignments and tasks are completed in a satisfactory way. My written evaluations usually have an overall statement of performance in the program, followed by a short descriptive statement for each of the elements of the program listed below. For example, an evaluation of a species account might be "Elizabeth's species account was on Anacardium occidentale, the cashew tree, and overall she did an excellent job. Her first draft was a fine product, with excellent English composition and general structure, and only small details of scientific format needed improvement. She produced a final paper with four pages of text and 13 references, including many excellent sources from the primary literature. She really did an outstanding job of synthesizing these papers, and produced a very readable and informative account. She clearly demonstrated an ability to follow conventions of technical scientific writing. She also did an excellent job of reviewing other students' drafts." An evaluation of an exam result might be "On the final exam, she demonstrated a very good knowledge of the conceptual material, as revealed by the short answer and definition portion. She did a very good job on the diversity calculations, but was weak on descriptive statistics."

Species accounts

On week 1, you will be assigned a genus or species of tropical organism. Your job is to find a recent technical scientific article about the taxon. The article should be published in a peer-reviewed journal and should be about the ecology, evolutionary biology, or taxonomy of the taxon. You will write a paper that contains the following elements: (1) the biology of wild populations (not the domesticated version) of your organism, (2) a summary of its interaction with and importance to humans, (3) a summary and critique of the focal article, and (4) specific suggestions for further research. The report should contain at least ten references from the primary scientific literature and follow the conventions of technical scientific writing.

If you plan to apply for Rainforest Research, you may substitute the species account with a project proposal for your independent research. See "tips" below. Nevertheless, you should become familiar with your species so you can write a newspaper article (see below) and inform others about it at the Rainforest Bazaar.

There will be a review process for manuscripts. We will establish "reviewer clubs" of three students each. Manuscript submissions will occur at the beginning of class on Wednesdays.
Week 4. First draft submitted to two student reviewers. Student reviewers make comments directly on manuscript copies and return to author by Friday. Reviewers: put your name on reviewed copy.
Week 5. Second draft and two reviewer copies of first draft submitted to faculty.
Week 6. Faculty return edited second draft.
Week 7. Third and final draft submitted to faculty for evaluation.

Click here for tips on writing proposals, writing technical scientific reports, and giving symposium talks.

Newpaper article

Imagine that your taxon is being attacked by a disease that threatens to extinguish them from the planet. Write a fictional newspaper article that reports this and the consequences to humanity. Feel free to be humorous or serious, but try to convey scientific information to a general, non-science audience.

The article will be due Wednesday of week 6.

Problem sets

There will be problem sets associated with lecture material. Bring answers to problem sets to Thursday afternoon sessions. We will go through problems and you can annotate the problem sets at this time (using a different pen or pencil). Problem sets will be submitted at the end of class, spot-checked for completeness by faculty, and returned. Problem sets will not be read closely or corrected by faculty; it is the student's responsibility to correct their own work and improve their understanding of the material. Material from problem sets will appear on the exam.

Diversity lab

Each student will submit an individual write-up from the Diversity Lab handout.

Statistics Workshop

Each week each student will bring to class a sample exam question from the assigned chapters. These will be gathered at the beginning of class and discussed during class. Present the question as it would appear on a written exam, followed by the answer.


On Friday of week 7 we will have a Rainforest Bazaar. Each student will prepare a visual or audiovisual display that is related to their species account.

Click here for photos from the Bazaar.

Week 7 Exam

There will be an in-class written exam during the friday morning period of week 7. The exam will be based on all program material up to that point.

Costa Rica field journal

Students will maintain a field journal during the Costa Rica field trip. The journal will be spot-checked by faculty during the field trip, and reviewed at the end of the fieldtrip.

Written evaluations

Prior to departure for Costa Rica students will submit a written evaluation of David Phillips. In Costa Rica at the end of the field trip, students will submit a written self evaluation and separate evaluations for John Longino and Elizabeth Anderson Olivas.


A geological map of Costa Rica:

Botany sites from Hillary:
Univ. Hawaii Botany Dept.
Digital Flora of Texas Plant Image Library.

Rainforest Research

Link to program website (click here).

A link to REU projects at La Selva (click here).

A link to some other student projects from a University of Costa Rica program (click here).

John T. Longino, The Evergreen State College, Olympia WA 98505 USA.

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Last modified: 21 February 2004.