Directed Research (DR) is fully running here in Bocas!

We have four different DR groups working on different projects. Two of them are water-based research projects, one of them is studying interface processes in the area, and the other one is studying Indigenous-led tourism experiences in Bocas del Toro.

Professor Carolyn Kovacs’ Tropical Coastal Ecology group is working hand in hand with Caribbean Coral Restoration (CCR) studying the success and monitoring of artificial reefs and coral nurseries in Bocas. After visiting a Caribbean Coral Restoration site, Solarte Island, a few times with our students to help them clean up the underwater nurseries, Professor Kovacs saw a great opportunity to help CCR in measuring the success of their efforts and provide feedback for current and future projects.

Center Director Cinda Scott’s group is working on studying the inter-habitat connectivity between seagrass, mangrove and coral reef ecosystems in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago. This group has focused its research on this given the efforts “to try to restore coral reefs in the face of environmental and anthropogenic challenges such as climate change, temperature increase, decreases in pH, hypoxia and bleaching events”.

Professor Ted Lawrence’s group is analyzing the interface processes of Parque Nacional Marino Isla Bastimentos (MPA) and the implications for the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. This group has engaged in several hikes all over the MPA that include measurements and a study of the different patches in the protected and un-protected areas.

Professor Leon Mach’s group is looking at the tourism demand for Indigenous-led tourist experiences in Bocas del Toro. This group has traveled to several locations such as Oreba Cacao Farm and Salt Creek in Isla Bastimentos to better understand what these experiences offer and how more tourists can be aware of them. In addition to this, this group has collected information from 100+ interviewees to better equip themselves for a comprehensive analysis on both the demand and offer.

Directed Research requires groups leaving the SFS Center as early as 7:30am and coming back as late as 6:00pm. DR has shown students’ endurance when heavy rain and wind comes to Bocas or when the ocean is not as warm as one wishes it were. It also requires a logistical effort to ensure that boats, vehicles, snacks, packed lunches, and so on are available for everyone and it’s a team effort that has been equally shared among all professors, staff, and students.

→ Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies in Panama