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Tropical Biodiversity & Lab
BIOL 122 (2) & 123 (1)


This course will introduce students to the scientific study of biodiversity in the Neotropics.  We will travel to a diversity of natural biological communities including rainforests, coastal communities, coral reefs, freshwater streams, and cloud forest. 

An emphasis of this class will be to examine effects of modern land-use patterns on the distribution and abundance of species.  We will visit agricultural areas used for intensive cultivation of major export crops including coffee and chocolate.  One assignment will be for each student to research an economically important agricultural product and report to the class on the environmental impacts associated with it.

Another of the goals of the course is to provide students with an opportunity to develop hypotheses about tropical systems and design specific experiments to test such hypotheses.  To that end, students will participate in guided research with faculty.  Students are then required to develop their own ideas and figure out ways of testing those ideas.


This course satisfies the University Core requirement for a Natural Science Elective and the core requirement for a Scientific Perspective course.


Tropical Ecology
BIOL 255 (3)


This course will introduce students to the scientific study of tropical ecology in Costa Rica.  While visiting a diversity of natural biological communities students will learn to identify tropical plant families and common tropical wildlife including resident and migratory birds, reptiles, & amphibians.  

This course will also have a strong emphasis on the methods of modern scientific investigation in a tropical setting.  Students will read primary literature describing current research projects and be introduced to techniques used to investigate tropical ecology. 


This course satisfies elective credit for Biology majors and Environmental Science majors.


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Course Dates & Itinerary


The course begins Wed. Dec. 27th, 2023 and ends Sunday, Jan. 7th,2024

Dec 27

Dec 28 to 31

Jan 1 & 2

Jan 3 & 4

Jan 5

Jan 6

Jan 7

Fly into San Jose, Costa Rica

4 nights in Bijagual Ecological Reserve

2 nights in High-elevation forest at Savegre

2 nights on the Golfo Dulce

1 night on Pacific beach in Parrita

Travel to San Jose

Fly home

Course Fees & Application

Cost of the course is expected to be about $4,000 and includes three biology credit hours, all within-country transportation, room and board.  It does not include round-trip airfare, application fee,  or any incidental expenses. 


Click the link below to visit the study abroad website for an application:

Costa Rica Application

or email Dr. George Farnsworth at




Dr. Farnsworth teaches General Biology, Animal Behavior, and Ecology at Xavier University and has been taking students to Costa Rica since 2008.  His interests focus on behavioral ecology of birds.  Dr. Farnsworth seeks to introduce students to the diversity of tropical plants and animals as well as the modern research techniques used by scientists to study tropical ecology.



Phone: 513-745-2062

Dr. Ray teaches General Biology II, Entomology, Parasitology, Darwinism, and senior research at Xavier. She has taught the Costa Rica study abroad course six times since 2011. Her research focuses on the chemical ecology, behavior, and trapping of beetles, and her current work is on invasive species. Dr. Ray is excited to share her love of tropical biodiversity with students.


Phone: 513-745-2054


If you have questions feel free to email us or visit our FAQ page.


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