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Primate Behavior and Ecology Field Course - La Suerte Biological Field Station

by Ed Hagen last modified Jun 10, 2013 11:12 PM
This field course, hosted by the La Suerte Biological Field Station, Costa Rica, will run from July 1st to July 27th, 2013. It will be taught by Dr. Christopher Schmitt (Postdoctoral Scholar with the Center for Neurobehavioral Genetics, UCLA).

The course will cover the behavior and ecology of primates from an evolutionary perspective. Emphasis will be given to New World primates, especially the three species present at La Suerte: Central American spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi), white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus) and mantled howling monkeys (Alouatta palliata). The course at La Suerte offers a wonderful opportunity to gain hands-on field experience in a truly extraordinary setting, surrounded by tropical forest with remarkable diversity of fauna and flora.

This is an intensive field course in primate behavior, and is equivalent to an upper- level undergraduate course. An enjoyment of highly physical outdoor adventures is a must! Many days are spent rising before dawn to hike to the field to begin observations of monkeys or other field activities, eating lunch in the field, and returning mid-afternoon for a couple of hours to study/rest before dinner. Evenings are spent in classroom lectures and discussion. After the first week of the course, students will work with the instructor to develop an independent research project. After the project is approved, students collect a minimum of 25 hours data for their project.

You will be exposed to a broad spectrum of primate behavior, fieldwork in general, as well as field Primatology, and have the opportunity to interact with local people that live with these primates every day. Our goal is for you to come away with a more integrated and comprehensive perspective of primate behavioral research and conservation.


This field experience is designed to expose undergraduate students to the theory behind and the methods of field primatology. The course will be broken up into two main sections: “primate behavioral ecology/field techniques” and “independent research project”. Because students will develop and carry out their own field research project, many students decide to pursue independent study credit through their respective colleges/universities.


The cost for the 4-week program is $2495 and does not include the flight, the cost of a hotel room in San Jose after completion of the course, or any souvenirs. For more information please visit Meals and lodging while at the La Suerte field station are included in the tuition for the course. Travel to San Jose is not included but a travel agent is put in touch with the students to help them find the best deals on flights. Lodging and meals in San Jose and Tortuguero are not included.

Application Deadline:

Priority will be given to students on a first-come, first-served basis


For any questions regarding this experience please contact Dr. Schmitt at or Tegan Gaetano at


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