|Dates / Deadlines:|
|Program Type:||WMU||Language of Instruction:||English|
|Minimum GPA:||2.0||Class Standing:||Undergraduate Freshman, Undergraduate Sophomore, Undergraduate Junior, Undergraduate Senior|
|Number of Credits:||3||Program Specialist:||Ann Ganz|
|Language experience required:||No||Areas of Study:||Arts & Sciences|
This program may be offered in a future year.
The course intent is to emphasize the diversity and functioning of ecological interactions in a tropical environment. We will spend 2 weeks in the field in Belize, Central America and return to Kalamazoo for 3 days of data analyses that will culminate in the presentation of your research results in a course symposium. From the inland site, students will explore a diversity of terrestrial habitats including wet, montane, coniferous, and mangrove forests, tropical savanna, streams and rivers. Participants will investigate how ecological, geological, topographical, and human factors have contributed to the development of these diverse ecosystems as well as study some of the many biotic interactions unique to the tropics. From the marine location, students will snorkel over the finest barrier reef in the western hemisphere and learn about coastal marine ecology. Belize's barrier reef is the second largest in the world, after the one in Australia. To appreciate human interactions with surrounding ecosystems, participants will visit ruins of an earlier Mayan civilization and see how people currently use natural resources. Before leaving for Central America, participants will have several evening sessions to learn about specific groups of organisms and ecosystems that they are likely to encounter during their travels. In Belize, daily activities will vary. At each site there will be initial orientation tours to become familiar with the plants and animals immediately at hand. Participants will also take a number of day trips to visit parks and reserves to see features of particular ecological interest. Students will work in groups to design and execute scientific field projects to examine the functioning of natural interactions among diverse organisms.
Belize is a small country in Central America where English is the official language, spoken by most people in a Creole dialect. Belize's ethnically diverse population includes Mayans, Garifunas, Creoles, Mestizos, and refugees from neighboring countries living together without much ethnic tension. There are also small groups of Mennonites who still speak an old form of German, as well as Chinese and Indians. Although Belize was "discovered" a few years ago as a tourism destination, the tourism industry is still not highly developed and one can still travel throughout Belize without enduring resorts catering to the beach crowd, except on Ambergris Caye, the largest caye on the barrier reef. Considering the small land area of Belize, there is a surprising diversity of ecosystems: wetlands, riparian, coastal, and montane, that have not been impacted by humans to the degree that natural areas have been affected in other Central American countries. The barrier reef off the coast of Belize is spectacular where marine ecosystems remain largely undisturbed and where one can still observe ocean mammals, manatees and dolphins by boating from one caye to another.
Good academic standing.
BFREE - students explore a diverse range of terrestrial habitats on this inland terrestrial facility including wet, montane, coniferous, mangrove and seasonally flooding forests, montane heath, tropical savanna, streams and rivers. Participants investigate how biological as well as human factors have contributed to the development of these diverse ecosystems, as well as study some of the many biotic interactions unique to the tropics.
Wee Wee Caye - as a marine facility students are able to snorkel over the finest barrier reef in the western hemisphere and learn about coastal marine ecology.
Before departing for Central America, participants have several sessions to learn about specific groups of organisms and ecosystems they were likely to encounter during their travels.&amp;nbsp; In Belize, daily activities focused on field excursions and group research projects to examine the functioning of natural interactions among diverse organisms. Participants also visit ruins of the extinct Mayan civilization at Mayflower and Xunantunich and see how people currently use natural resources in order to appreciate human interactions with surrounding ecosystems.
WMU credit will be awarded for BIOS 4560 (3 credits) upon successful completion of the program. Students are urged to work closely with the appropriate academic advisor(s) to determine how these credits will be counted towards their degree.
The cost of the program includes tuition, accommodation, local transportation, most meals, health insurance, park entrance fees, ground transportation in Belize, and excursions. Not included: airfare, airport tax in Belize, passport fees, books and course materials, and personal expenses, including tips.
Students applying for this program may be eligible for the Haenicke Institute for Global Education Study Abroad scholarship.
Students eligible for federal or state financial aid may use their awards for studying abroad. After a student has been accepted to the program, he/she must complete required paperwork with WMU Financial Aid to apply financial aid to the program costs. It is the student's responsibility to complete the paperwork prior to departure and to maintain compliance with financial aid regulations while studying abroad (i.e., remain enrolled full-time). Non-WMU students must apply for financial aid through their home university.
Note: program fees are subject to adjustment due to changes in actual exchange rates or other factors. In addition, programs may be modified or canceled in the event of insufficient enrollment. Program dates are subject to slight adjustment by the home/host university.
During the portion at BFREE, students will stay in a bunkhouse on the BFREE reserve. During the portion at Wee Wee Caye, students will stay in rustic cabins.
Tentative itinerary for 2012
Saturday, April 28 - Depart for Belize
Sunday, May 13 - Return to Kalamazoo
Mandatory final portion of course on WMU campus. Tentative itinerary subject to change.
Stephen B. Malcolm
Dept. of Biological Sciences
Phone: (269) 387-5604
3151 Wood Hall
WMU Study Abroad:
Study Abroad Specialist, Sr.
2425 Ellsworth Hall
Phone: (269) 387-5890
Host Institution Information (external links)
BFREE Webpage http://www.bfreebz.org/
Course Information http://homepages.wmich.edu/%7Emalcolm/BIOS4560-tropical%20biology/4560TropBiolIndex.html
Demographic Information (external links)
Country Information http://www.lonelyplanet.com/belize
Department of State http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/1955.htm