Name: Dr. Edgardo Arévalo
Position: Lecturer in Tropical Ecology
Program: Sustainable Development Studies, Costa Rica

Dry sunny days here in Atenas permit the students to compare diversity of weather conditions after visiting the rain and cloud forest ecosystems. After the introductory classes, the students have been immersed in the academic dynamics through regular classes, field lectures, discussions and field exercises.

Our first field exercise took place in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Amid the epiphyte laden and cool environment that is characteristic of the highlands, the students received the cloud forest ecology lecture followed by a hike towards the continental dive of the mountain range.

In the orientation hike the students observed and learned on the natural history of many plant and animal species. Back to the Monteverde Biological Station, the student brainstormed about ideas to conduct a short ecology based project the next day in the reserve. A class on economics later that evening for a change!

Back at the Cloud Forest Reserve the next day, pairs of students began to collect field data to test the hypotheses they had formulated. Measuring leaf area and moss cover, counting flowers or fruits and assessing plant density under different light conditions were some of the subjects the students investigated.

Now back at the Atenas center, the student are analyzing the data and writing their first report. This field exercise exposes the students to the scientific method and hypothesis testing procedures. However, not all is academic and the students are having great time doing farm chores and refreshing themselves in the pool.