Tropical Ecology

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Winter 2018 quarter

Taught by

forest ecology, sustainable forestry
  • Sabra Hull

This class explores Costa Rican tropical ecology, research, and culture through preparatory classes, readings, and a two-week trip to southern Costa Rica. Students will be introduced to organisms and ecological processes of lowland, pre-montane and cloud forest tropical forests through a series of forest walks, lectures, and independent field studies. Each student will develop, implement, and report on an independent field study exploring concepts from class, lectures, and reading. The class will travel by private transport and stay at three research stations. Resources and staff at each station will help students maximize their time in country.

Class topics will explore (1) biogeographical and ecological explanations for species diversity and distribution, (2) alternate hypotheses and explanations for high diversity tropical forests, (3) ecological interactions and coevolution, (4) pollination and fruit dispersal mechanisms, (5) land use change, forest fragmentation and sustainable development models, (6) Costa Rica’s forward-thinking ecosystem services programs, and (7) forest restoration.

Faculty Biography
Richard Bigley, Ph.D., is a forest ecologist who teaches sustainable forestry and on occasion a forest ecology class. His current work focuses on the restoration of riparian forests to older forest conditions in western Washington, and the ecology and management of headwater streams and wetlands. He works for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Over the last 21 years with DNR, he has served as the team leader for the Forest Ecology, Wildlife Science and the Habitat Conservation Plan Monitoring and Adaptive Management Teams. He also advises other organizations on the development of conservation plans. Before DNR, he worked as an ecologist for the Forest Service PNW Experiment Station and private industry. Richard earned a Ph.D. in Forest Ecology and Silviculture and a M.Sc. in Botany from the University of British Columbia. He has been an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington, College of the Environment, School of Forestry since 1994. As member of the Northern Spotted owl “5-year review” panel in 2004, Richard was a contributor to the first comprehensive evaluation of the scientific information on the Northern Spotted owl since the time of its listing as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1990. After his family, his passions are the science of natural resources management and conservation, and boating.

Sabra Hull (forthcoming)

Program Details


Winter Open

Location and Schedule

Final Schedule and Room Assignment

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

This course will meet during four Wednesday evenings, 6-10 pm, during winter quarter followed by two weeks (March 17-30) in Costa Rica.

Online Learning

Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online


Class fees : Anticipated to be $1,350 plus $800 airfare. A $350 deposit will be due on registration that contributes to the class fee. All students are required to attend an orientation session about this elective early in fall quarter that will provide further details.