Neotropical Ecology Field Trips
In 1999, Dr. Engman took his first class of upper-level students to a Jamaican marine laboratory where they were able to study coral reefs, mangroves, sea grass beds and rocky shore habitats. Students had research projects on which they focused. Reefs in Jamaica were, and are, among the most impacted in the Caribbean, due to overfishing, increased ocean temperatures, and impacts from the land. He returned to Jamaica with classes in 2001, 2002 and 2003.
In July 2004, Dr. Engman and nine Henderson biology students traveled to the rainforests and reefs of Panama for Henderson’s neotropical ecology course. Groups returned to Panama each July from 2005-2011. Another trip is scheduled in 2012.
In 2012, neotropical ecology will be offered second summer session, and will involve 1 week of classes at the Simonson Biological Field Station, and three weeks of fieldwork in the Republic of Panama (July 9-29). Students will visit Smithsonian Tropical Research Facilities, including the molecular and marine laboratory, and Isla Barro Colorado, a 1500 hectare island dedicated to biological research. Students will study Caribbean reefs in the autonomous province of Kuna Yala, where reefs are considered to be in better condition than in much of the rest of the Caribbean. They will travel to the remote Darien Province, and ride horses up into the cloud forest, staying at a primitive field station. They will also study the marine biology of the Pacific Ocean while staying in the Perlas Archipelago. There are no open spots for the trip, and there is currently a waiting list for the 2013 trip.
Class at a waterfall in the cloud forest of Panama. They were the first outside group ever to visit this site.
A photograph of the student accommodations in Kuna Yala, Panama, summer 2012, on Isla Iguana.
In response to request from students who wanted more experiences in the tropics, in June 2008 Dr. Engman and his spouse, Lori, took eight “veterans” of the Panama class to Belize. The field experience was repeated in 2009 and 2010 and is scheduled for June, 2012.
Belize Field Experience 2008. This was a “one time” experience developed for students who had traveled previously with Dr. Engman to Jamaica and/or Panama. It has now become a regular summer offering. The photograph shows where each student went after completing the experience. Pictured with Engman and his wife, Lori Freno, are:
- Kristin Lenke, Doctor of Pharmacy Program, UAMS
- April Helms Costa, Environmental Consultant, Little Rock
- Jessica Meador, PhD Program in Microbiology, Oklahoma
- Sherri Graves, NASA (Went on to a marine conservation program at Texas A&M University)
- Shara Jones, Lewis and Clark (Has now graduated and is an attorney)
- Nicole Freeman, UALR
- Wyatt Miller, University of Oregon (Has graduated and is a marine biologist in Southern California)
The Belize Field Experience focuses on marine conservation issues on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world. Following weekly classes on campus during spring semester, students will be in Belize from June 5 – June 14, 2012. Students will stay at a marine laboratory in San Pedro, studying reef, mangrove, and sea grass habitats from the lab’s 48 foot catamaran. Belize has established an unusually effective marine protected area in this area, so students are able to observe large fish like grouper, sea turtles and even manatees, all of which are rare or absent at most sites throughout the Caribbean. Students also travel inland where they do some caving, hiking in the tropical forest, and visit Tikal, a spectacular Mayan archaeological site in Guatemala. There are no spots open for the trip.
Neotropical ecology student swimming with manatee in Belize.
Galapagos and Machu Picchu
In 2013, a field experience is planned for the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu. The islands are located in the eastern Pacific Ocean off the west coast of South America. Machu Picchu is a pre-Columbian 15th-century Inca site located in Peru. There are three spots open on this trip. Participants do not have to be biology majors.
This is the ship the field experience class will use in the Galapagos Islands in 2013.
The field experience class will visit Machu Piccu in Peru in 2013.