Ecuador Tropical Ecology Program
The Ecuador Tropical Ecology Program offers biology and environmental science majors the opportunity to spend a semester studying the vast and diverse ecosystems of Ecuador through intensive hands-on experiences. The program consists of four ecology courses based on field research in the montane, tropical rainforest, and coastal regions, as well as an intensive Spanish language course.
All science courses are taught in English. Graduate credit may be awarded to full-time graduate students for the ecology courses by conducting additional independent research.
During the first nine weeks of the program students complete three upper-level ecology courses on the various ecosystems of Ecuador, which combine lectures at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito with studies lasting from several days to four weeks in different environments in Ecuador. Students also enroll in a required, 2-credit, intensive Spanish course during the first three weeks of the program. The highlights of the field experience include an eight-day guided scientific excursion to the Galapagos Islands, a two-week coastal project at Los Piqueros (near Machalilla National Park on the Pacific coast), and a four-week stay in the Amazon rainforest at the Tiputini Biodiversity Station.
Students are required to take these courses:
CAS BI/GE 438/638: Tropical Montane Ecology (4 credits)
Ecology of the montane zone of the neotropics, including grasslands, sub-alpine, and alpine shrub ecosystems. This course examines the interrelationships among the flora and fauna of montane ecosystems, including how these environments are being exploited for natural resources and agriculture. The course includes lectures presented during a two-week period, interspersed with several one-to-two-day field trips to surrounding mountains. Individual and group projects are conducted on field trips. Staff. Syllabus
CAS BI/GE 439/639: Tropical Rainforest Ecology (4)
Ecology of the rainforest, including principles applied to the function of the tropical rainforest, using the Amazon Ecuadorian basin as an example. This course examines rainforest habitats, biodiversity, conservation, specialization, and co-evolution of rainforest species. The course includes lectures presented in Quito, followed by four weeks of intensive study in the world’s most diverse rainforest. Time in the field is dedicated primarily to individual and group research projects. Staff. Syllabus
CAS BI/GE 440/640: Tropical Coastal Ecology (4)
Ecology of the coastal zone of Ecuador, including a survey of terrestrial and shallow marine ecosystems. This course examines the ecology of tropical dry forests, mangrove swamps, reefs, rocky and sandy shorelines, and agroecosystems. The course includes lectures presented during a two-week period in Quito, followed by about two weeks of intensive field studies along the coast of Ecuador and a one-week field trip to the Galápagos Islands. Field study includes sampling and observations, and individual and group projects. Staff. Syllabus
CAS BI/GE 441/641: Studies in Tropical Ecology (4)
Capstone course in Tropical Ecology immediately following the series of three field-based courses. This course focuses on evaluation and statistical analysis of data previously collected in the field, library research, and preparation of written and oral reports. Staff. Syllabus
CAS QU 300: Intensive Spanish (2)
The main goal of this course is for students to improve their ability to express themselves in spoken and written Spanish through the development of vocabulary, and the mastery of the grammar and idioms of the Spanish language. Students also improve their listening comprehension and reading ability while learning about Ecuadorian culture. Staff.
Download a description of the Ecuador Tropical Ecology Program.
Program Faculty & Staff
The Boston University Ecuador Tropical Ecology Program is administered in coordination with our Boston and Quito offices. In Boston, a program manager facilitates the admissions and pre-departure procedures, and maintains contact with students prior to their arrival in Ecuador. In Ecuador, the program is facilitated by a resident coordinator.