New Course Offering: Neotropical Bat Biology

DANTA is delighted to announce a new course offering for winter 2016! Neotropical Bat Biology will be held from January 1-15, 2016 at Osa Conservation‘s Piro Research Station in Costa Rica’s spectacular Osa peninsula. As the one of the largest tracts of rain forest north of the Amazon (roughly 400,000 acres in the Osa Conservation Area), it is renowned for high species diversity. It is one of only a few sites in Costa Rica that contain 4 species of primate (mantled howler monkey, black-handed spider monkey, white-faced capuchin and squirrel monkey). Four species of sea turtle also nest along its beaches. Please help us protect this unique region which is of international conservation concern.

Our courses are intended for undergraduates or early graduate level students who have a keen interest in tropical biology and conservation, but have little or no experience of working in a tropical environment.

For more information, please visit our website and/or contact us at

Course Description

This two-week course on bat biology offers an intensive field experience during which students will participate in a number of guided hikes and introductory “bat nights” to gain familiarity with tropical habitats and organisms, to learn to identify Costa Rica’s diverse bat fauna, and to practice field techniques used for capturing and studying bats.  Students then will carry out field projects focusing on a specific topic in bat biology, including performing laboratory and statistical analyses and presenting their findings to the group.  Additional time will be spent in discussions of general ecology, zoology, and issues in tropical biology.

The course includes a field trip to an sustainable chocolate plantation,and boat tour of the Golfo Dulce for dolphin viewing and snorkeling. We overnight on the Boruca Indigenous Reserve where we will learn about the community and their traditional lifeways, and help with needed projects. The field trip is in cooperation with Planet Conservation, our sustainable and socially responsible travel partner.

Enrollment is limited to 10 students. The course is open to both credit and non-credit seeking students. University credit can be arranged through your home institution.


Dr. Heather York is a tropical bat ecologist who began working in Costa Rica as an undergraduate in and has since done research and taught a number of field courses in several countries throughout the Americas.  One of her current projects is writing a dichotomous field identification key to the bats of Costa Rica and Nicaragua.  She is a professor of zoology, evolution, and ecology at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa.  She holds a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Kansas and undergraduate degrees in Biology and Spanish Linguistics from the University of Minnesota.  Her hobbies include nature photography and raising a daughter and two dogs.

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