TROPICAL ECOLOGY PROGRAM
March 24 - 31, 2018
May 15 - 29, 2017
Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace formed many of their seminal ideas about evolution while traveling in the tropics and experiencing firsthand the overwhelming diversity of plants and animals that inhabit tropical rainforests. Loyola’s Tropical Ecology study abroad program combines lectures and discussions on campus with fieldtrips to Central America and Brazil to increase student understanding and appreciation of the evolution, maintenance, and conservation of biological diversity in the tropics.
On campus – students enrolled in Tropical Ecology BIOL Z250 earn three hours of science credit during the spring semester while learning about biological and physical processes that shape and maintain tropical ecosystems, becoming familiar with major groups of tropical plants and animals, and preparing for a fieldtrip to either Roatan, Honduras or Brazil. Students enrolled in Tropical Ecology lecture are required to sign up for at least one of the following fieldtrips .
Tropical Ecology field work in Roatan, Honduras (March 24 0 31) – Students enrolled in this section will earn one hour of science lab credit while traveling to the island of Roatan during Easter break. The primary goal of this fieldtrip is for students to learn about tropical marine ecosystems while snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking on coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass beds. This fieldtrip provides a great opportunity for students to become scuba certified.
Tropical Ecology field work in the Brazilian Pantanal (dates to be determined in July 2018) – the primary goal of this trip is to experience the amazing biodiversity and unique culture of the largest wetland ecosystem in the world. Participants may observe jaguars, giant anteaters, giant river otters, capybaras, caimans, anacondas, hyacinth macaws, rheas, and a variety of spectacular insects and spiders. We will compare and contrast the ecology of the Pantanal with coastal Louisiana and other magnificent wetlands. Pending Approval.
The Tropical Ecology Studies Program is offered through the Department of Biological Sciences and this year is directed by Dr. Frank Jordan.
The fieldtrip to Roatan, Honduras is $3200 and the fieldtrip to Brazil is around $6000. Both fees include airfare, lodging, group meals, local transportation, entrance, and and activity fees.
Students going to Roatan, Honduras will spend most of their time scuba diving on beautiful coral reefs. Scuba certification and diving is included in the cost of the trip.
Full payment is collected at the beginning of the semester along with tuition and other class fees. No refunds will be made after plane tickets are purchased, so students may want to consider purchasing travel insurance.
Students should bring enough money to cover incidental expenses, snacks, souvenirs, gifts, etc. A list of clothing and gear needed for the field trip will be provided in class.
Classes and Academic Policies
Loyola's general academic policies apply to study abroad programs. Students are expected to attend class regularly and complete all assignments described in the course syllabus in order to fulfill the requirements for the course.
Students must check with their academic departments or university to determine that the credits and/or grades will be accepted toward graduation requirements.
Any student currently enrolled and in good standing at an accredited institution may apply for the Belize Tropical Ecology program.
For students who are already scuba certified, diving is an option during the Roatan fieldtrips but students do not have to be certified.
Scuba certification and unlimited diving is included in the price of the Roatan trip. Students getting certified in Roatan will also need to spend ≈$175 extra to complete PADI online training prior to the trip. All scuba divers must have a valid Divers Alert Network (DAN) card and dive insurance.
Passports and Visas
In order to attend either program, students must have valid up-to-date passports and any necessary visas. U.S. citizens do not need visas for Belize, Guatemala, or Honduras, but citizens of other countries may need one. It is up to all students not holding U.S. passports to check with the appropriate consulate about the necessary visas.
Participants must provide a copy of their passport about a month before the scheduled trip abroad. Passports should not expire within six months of the end of the trip abroad.
The Center for International Education (CIE) will be happy to discuss health care concerns you may have related to study abroad. Integration into a new culture and learning environment creates particular challenges, both mental and physical, for an individual. For this reason, if you are currently receiving treatment for any chronic illness it is strongly recommended that you talk with the CIE director or your doctor about plans to manage your health condition abroad.
Students should consult with a physician to determine the vaccinations for Honduras, Belize, and Guatemala that are recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Visit wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/ to learn more about medical precautions that may be needed for your trip abroad.
A key feature of the tropics is that the region is generally hot, humid, and undeveloped. Fieldtrips include extensive long hikes over mountainous terrain, snorkeling, diving, and other strenuous physical activities. If you have any concerns about your ability to perform any of these activities or have other special needs or disability-related concerns, please contact the Center for International Education.
Frank Jordan, Ph.D., is a Professor of Biological Sciences at Loyola University New Orleans. His research focuses on ecology and conservation of aquatic and marine ecosystems, with special emphasis on the biology of fishes. He has been leading this trip for about five years and encourages biology and environmental science majors to consider integrating a research project into their trip to the tropics.
Aimee Thomas, Ph.D., is Visiting Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at Loyola University New Orleans. Her research focuses on science education, natural history, and the biology of tropical spiders.
Robert Thomas, Ph.D., is Professor of Environmental Communications at Loyola University New Orleans. His research focuses on science education, environmental journalism and communication, natural history and the biology of tropical snakes.