Primate Behavior and Conservation Field Course in Costa Rica 2018

Primate Behavior and Conservation

Dates: June 15-July 11, 2018

Program Fee: $3500

Guest Speaker: Dr. Eckhard Heymann

Application deadline: June 1, 2018

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.


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.


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 Speaker

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Eckhard Heymann will guest lecture in our summer 2018 Primate Behavior and Conservation course.

heymann 2

Originally from Linden, a small town north of Frankfurt, he is now a senior scientist at the German Primate Center in Göttingen and an adjunct professor at the University of Göttingen. For his undergraduate degree he worked on the behavior of tree shrews before switching to primates for his doctoral thesis at the University of Giessen. He is a behavioral biologist and ecologist focusing on New World primates, and is running a field research site in north-eastern Peruvian Amazonia. Research projects are primarily concerned with ecological interactions (seed dispersal, mixed-species groups) and social systems, and mainly focused on tamarins and titi monkeys, but he is also interested in the ecology of other organisms, including plants. He has authored and co-authored more than 160 papers, mainly in peer-reviewed international journals, and a number of book chapters. Peer-reviewing for many journals and funding organizations, serving as associate editor to “Primates” and co-editor of “Ecotropica”, and co-chairing the Regional Coordination (Andean countries) of the IUCN-SSC Primate Specialist Group are amongst the professional activities besides research, supervising and teaching. In his leisure time, he enjoys reading historical travel accounts, listening to jazz, latin and classical music and strolling with his dog.


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