Primate Behavior and Conservation Field Course in Costa Rica

Primate Behavior and Conservation

Dates: June 15-July 10, 2016

Program Fee: $3100

Guest Speaker: Dr. Christina Campbell

Application deadline: June 1, 2016

For more information about the field course, please visit our website and/or email us at

Course Description

This course is designed to provide students with field experience in primate behavior, ecology, and conservation. The course will be conducted 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.


White-faced Capuchin Monkey, Cebus capucinus 

The learning experiences for the course fall into five main categories: field exercises, independent research, discussions, lectures and applied conservation. The first half of the courses is devoted to learning ecological field techniques, while in the second half students develop, carry out and present data from their independent research projects. Many of our participants have gone on to present their work at national and regional conferences. The field exercises and seminars provide instruction and experience in:(1) methods of measuring environmental variables, including assessment of resource availability, (2) methods of collecting and analyzing the behavior of free-ranging primates, (3) assessments of biodiversity and (4) techniques for estimating population size. Lecture topics will cover the behavior and ecology of Old and New World primates from an evolutionary perspective. Selected lecture topics include primate sociality, feeding ecology, taxonomy, rain forest ecosystems, conservation, climate change and sustainability. Participants gain experience in applied conservation through participation in Osa Conservation’s reforestation,and sea turtle breeding and monitoring programs.


Central American Squirrel Monkey, Saimiri oerstedii

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

Guest SpChristina Campbelleaker

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Christina Campbell will guest lecture in our summer 2016 Primate Behavior and Conservation course. Originally from Christchurch, New Zealand Dr. Campbell is an Associate professor of Anthropology at California State University, Northridge.  Her undergraduate degree in Zoology is from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and her PhD, in Anthropology, is from the University of California – Berkeley.  She is a biological anthropologist specializing in New World primates, with an ongoing research project in Panama at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute site of Barro Colorado Island.  Her research examines the reproductive biology, behavioral ecology and the evolution of alcoholism among spider monkeys. An internationally known expert on spider monkeys, Dr. Campbell is the senior editor of Primates in Perspective, a college-level textbook that won the 2007 Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title, an honor granted by the American Library Association to books that make exceptional contributions to undergraduate education. She is the sole editor of “Spider Monkeys: Behavior, Ecology and Evolution of the Genus Ateles,” and has multiple peer reviewed articles on spider monkey behavioral ecology and reproductive biology in leading journals.  In her spare time, Dr. Campbell enjoys playing the sport of Netball and horse back riding.


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