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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 course 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.  Students will research an ecologically or economically important animal, plant, or fungus species and present their detailed findings to the class. 

Another of the goals of the course is to provide students with an opportunity to develop hypotheses about tropical systems and design experiments to test such hypotheses. Students will work with their classmates and our Costa Rican partners to test their hypotheses and contribute to original research.


This course satisfies the University Core requirement for a Natural Science Elective and the core requirement for a Scientific Perspective course (lecture and lab). The course cannot count for both requirements.


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, and arthropods.  

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, Environmental Science, and Biological Science for Business majors. This course counts for biology elective credit for several minors.


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Course Dates & Itinerary


The course begins Saturday, Dec. 28th, 2024 and ends Thursday, Jan. 9th,2025

Dec 28

Dec 29 to Jan 2

Jan 2 to 4

Jan 4 to 7

Jan 7

Jan 8

Jan 9

Fly into San Jose, Costa Rica

4 nights in Bijagual Ecological Reserve

2 nights in High-elevation forest at Savegre

3 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. Annie Ray at




Dr. Ray teaches General Biology II, Entomology, Parasitology, Darwinism, and senior research at Xavier. She has taught the Costa Rica study abroad course seven 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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