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Study Rainforest Ecology in Puerto Rico with SEE-U

A Puerto Rican Tody (Todus mexicanus) is one of the myriad birds native to El Yunque National Forest. Photo provided by Jason Sturner.

The Summer Ecosystems Experiences for Undergraduates (SEE-U) program at Puerto Rico offers students a unique opportunity to study rainforest ecology firsthand. For five weeks, from May 19 to June 23, 2012, students live onsite, study, and conduct research at El Verde Field Station, a renowned research facility operated by the Institute for Tropical Ecosystem Studies at the University of Puerto Rico. This station is located at El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical forest within the United States Forest System.

Living inside a unique tropic forest ecosystem provides undergraduate students of all majors the opportunity to immerse themselves in the ecology and dynamics of a fragile and threatened environmental system. They can study biodiversity by interacting and observing the many species of trees, epiphytes, reptiles, amphibians, birds, aquatic invertebrates and fungi that are only found in Puerto Rico’s rain forest.

SEE-U Puerto Rico also offers students the opportunity to explore the ecology and biodiversity present in coral reefs and mangrove forests. Snorkeling labs, inventories of marine biodiversity and a boat tour of the keys surrounding Isla Magueyes are only some of the various field activities students participate in during their study abroad experience. Marine biologists from the Department of Marine Sciences of the University of Puerto Rico are the guides for the exclusive Isla Magueyes boat tour.

Other excursions include hikes through El Yunque, a visit to Arecibo Observatory (home of the world’s largest radio telescope), and a trip to Las Cabezas, where students embark on a guided night tour to observe nocturnal forest wildlife.

No prerequisites or previous knowledge of science is necessary in order to enroll in this SEE-U course. Students of all majors can apply. Funding through fellowships is available for up to $3000 for interested students.

To learn more about SEE-U Puerto Rico and other SEE-U courses available this summer, visit our website or contact CERC directly at cerc@columbia.edu or 212-854-0149. We look forward to hearing from you!

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