Amazing biological diversity and a friendly Latin American atmosphere make Costa Rica a perfect destination to explore the natural world. Over 800 bird species (including many tropical birds like toucans, parrots, and motmots) and hundreds of mammals (highlighted by monkeys, sloths, and multiple cat species) make this varied country an interesting location to explore the ecology, anatomy, and biology of vertebrate organisms. We will explore the 400 hectare (1000 acre) La Suerte Biological Field Station, observing and capturing many of its 260 recorded bird species, carefully considering their anatomical adaptations and linking these with their habitat preferences and other ecological connections. While we will focus on birds, we will not neglect any of the other diverse forms of life present at the biological station.
The comparative anatomy course will involve dissections on ODU’s campus prior to our trip to Costa Rica, allowing a greater familiarity with the similarities and differences among vertebrate animals. We will also prepare bird museum specimens, equipping us with knowledge of internal and external bird anatomy that will provide the requisite background for understanding and interpreting the live birds we will handle and observe in Costa Rica.