Courses in Panama build upon the strong foundation provided in the fall semester, with an emphasis on field study and experiments. Easy access to the coral reef and a variety of near shore coastal habitats facilitate an experiential learning environment where lecture, lab, and field study are intertwined. Panama also provides an ideal location for the program’s only non-marine course, Tropical Terrestrial Ecology. An extensive field trip across the country to the Pacific Ocean exposes students to a variety of tropical habitats. We then travel to Central America’s largest island, Coiba, for a week examining Eastern Pacific Coral Reefs as part of our Coral Reef Ecology and Ocean & Coastal Processes courses.
Courses at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute include:
BIOL 5505 Biology of Corals 3 cr.
Focuses on the biology of Scleractinian reef-building corals and associated anthozoans found in coral reef ecosystems. Topics include systematics, anatomy, physiology, and population biology of corals, with an emphasis on the latest techniques employed by coral molecular biologists and physiologists.
BIOL 5507 Biology and Ecology of Fishes 3 cr.
A field, lecture and laboratory course that examines the systematics, functional morphology, behavioral ecology, and community structure of reef fishes. Field and lab experiments focus on morphology, behavior and community ecology of reef fishes.
BIOL 5513 Tropical Terrestrial Ecology 1 cr.
Introduces students to the flora, fauna and ecosystems of Panama. Includes an extended field trip to over the Continental Divide to the Pacific Ocean.
BIOL 5519 Ocean & Coastal Processes 2 cr.
Examines the coupling between physical and biological processes on coral reefs and adjacent habitats. Focuses on biophysical, oceanographic and benthic-pelagic processes acting in coral reef and associated nearshore ecosystems. Specific topics will include oceanographic forcing mechanisms, organismal biomechanics, hydrodynamics, and nutrient dynamics.
BIOL 5520 Coral Reef Ecology 2 cr.
Examines the ecology and paleoecology of coral reefs. This course highlights the ecological importance of coral reefs and associated nearshore communities, ecosystem function, changes in reef biotas through geologic time, and the causes and consequences of reef degradation worldwide.