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Tropical Biodiversity and Field Methods (South East Asia / Caribbean)

Vak 2015-2016

Note: In 2015-2016 this course will be given twice: in semester 1 (in Caribbean, St. Eustatius) or Semester 2 (in South East Asia, Borneo). From 2016-2017 onwards always in semester 2, alternating South East Asia or Caribbean.

Admission requirements

The course is targeted at students with a Bachelor in Biology or equivalent degree, although we also accept a small proportion of BSc and PhD students. Priority will be given to students who show a strong motivation and interest to study tropical ecosystems.

Contact information

Coordinators: Prof. dr. M. Schilthuizen (SE Asia), Dr. J. Miller (Caribbean)
Email: menno.schilthuizen@naturalis.nl, jeremy.miller@naturalis.nl

Description

The course will provide a broad overview of tropical ecology, flora and fauna. During the lectures, students will learn about practical aspects of doing field research in the tropics, of the relevant and unanswered questions, and of the application in biodiversity conservation. In addition, basic taxonomic overviews for taxa that are particularly relevant in tropical ecosystems are given.
The course will be held partly in Leiden, partly in South East Asia or the Caribbean, respectively, alternating (per study year) in the Danau Girang Field Centre in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, or in the Caribbean Netherlands Science Institute (CNSI) in St. Eustatius, Netherlands Antilles.
The field work will consist of (a) demonstrations of field methods and techniques and (b) short research projects carried out by small groups of students.
The course is a unique opportunity to get theoretical as well as practical instructions on tropical biodiversity from a broad range of experienced lecturers, in a setting that allows you to interact informally and intensively with fellow students, including Malaysian or Caribbean ones, respectively, as well as more experienced researchers and field biologists. The course is an excellent preparation for fieldwork in the tropics and can, in the case of the Caribbean, be easily extended by an internship. The course provides study credits and is also a coveted c.v.-item.

Learning goals

Course objectives:

The course aims to provide:

  • Theoretical insights into the biodiversity and ecosystem dynamics of tropical ecosystems
  • A broad overview of the taxa with a high relevance for tropical ecosystems
  • Overview of major and unsolved questions related to tropical biodiversity
  • Hands-on experience with field methods and sampling techniques in tropical habitats.
  • First-hand experience with biodiversity conservation and uses of biodiversity.

Final qualifications:

  • Students will have a comprehensive understanding of tropical ecosystem ecology and biodiversity.
  • Students are skilled in designing and carrying out a field study in tropical ecosystems.
  • Students are experienced in working in tropical habitats and addressing relevant questions through scientific research.

Timetable

Note: In 2015-2016 this course will be given twice: in semester 1 (in Caribbean, St. Eustatius) or Semester 2 (in South East Asia, Borneo)
From 2016-2017 onwards always in semester 2, alternating South East Asia or Caribbean

Course in St. Eustatius (2015):

  • week 39‒40: lectures, self-study and exam
  • week 41: demonstrations of field methods and techniques in St. Eustatius
  • week 42: short research projects and active involvement in data collections in St. Eustatius, presentation of the results at the Caribbean Netherlands Science Institute (CNSI)

Course in Borneo (2016):

  • week 7‒8: lectures, self-study and exam
  • week 9: demonstrations of field methods and techniques at the Danau Girang Field Centre
  • week 10: short research projects and presentation of the results at the Danau Girang Field Centre

Mode of instruction

The theoretical part of the course (in Leiden) will consist of lectures and self-study. The field work part (in Malaysia or St. Eustatius) will consist of demonstrations of field methods and techniques and short research projects carried out by small groups of students.

Assessment method

Students will be graded based on a written exam after the theoretical part of the course in Leiden, and on their performance, written report and oral presentation of a mini-project at the Danau Girang Field Centre or at CNSI, St. Eustatius, respectively.

Blackboard

Lectures and practical information will be available on Blackboard.

Reading list

Compulsory: Ghazoul, J. & Sheil, D. (2010) Tropical rain forest ecology, diversity, and conservation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Registration

Prospective students should submit their CV and a short motivation letter to Mrs. Hanneke de Wolf (hanneke.dewolf@naturalis.nl), this year (2015) indicating clearly whether they are applying for the Caribbean [September/October 2015] or the Borneo [February/March 2016] version of the course. Students will receive extra information, including possibilities for applying for funding.

Register in Usis and enroll on Blackboard

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for more information on how to apply.

Remarks

The costs include a course fee of € 1050, plus air travel and several other expenses, as follows. Students will need to book and pay their own travel to and accommodation in Leiden and to Sandakan, Malaysia or St. Eustatius (via St. Maarten), respectively. They also need to purchase the compulsory text book (Ghazoul & Sheil, 2010. Tropical Rain Forest Ecology. OUP). Costs for insurances and personal medication (vaccinations, malaria prophylaxes (Borneo only); consult your own GP or travel clinic for this) are, of course, also to be borne by the students themselves. The course fee of € 1050 covers (if applicable at the respective field location) includes (bus) transport, accommodation, food and drinks, boat transfers, field assistants, T-shirt, conservation fee, partial sponsoring of the local participating students, and field equipment.

Maximum 20 students (Borneo) or 16 students (St. Eustatius), respectively.