This first summer session, our Center received 21 students from a variety of universities and places around the United States. Summer 1 started with a trip to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica to get to know the tropical rainforest, as well as alternatives to generate economic income while balancing the conservation needs of local communities within the context of high diversity.

Students started their trip in Manú, a field station immersed in a rainforest and connected to the Turrialba Volcano. From there, students went to the integrated farm El Progreso and saw alternatives to implement sustainable agriculture. The rest of the field trips included visits to Poás National Park, Carara National Park and the Tárcoles River, and a visit to the organic coffee farm of El Toledo here in Atenas.

This week we are off to the field to get engaged in our research component. Professors Edgardo Arévalo (tropical ecologist) and Achim Häger (manager of natural resources) will be stationed in San Gerardo de Monteverde, a beautiful research station overlooking the Arenal Volcano, where they will guide students in their independent research project on tropical ecology and carbon sequestration. In my case, I will take a group of students to analyze the hummingbird interactions around feeders in different parts of Monteverde, looking at patterns of dependence on feeders, competitive interactions, and patterns of pollen flow, from which the students will develop their own independent projects.

In addition, along with the students we will examine the effectiveness of the sustainable tourism certification in hotels around the Monteverde area. This last part of the program will be busy and very intense, and we are looking forward to find out what we all will be exploring and discovering about the interlink between tropical diversity, resource management, and sustainable tourism visitation.