Discover Life | UGA Costa Rica

Insect and Plant Diversity
University of Georgia

ECOL 4110

Spring, 2009
San Luis, Costa Rica

Pteroglossus torquatus
Photograph by Patty Gowaty
Pteroglossus torquatus (Gmelin, 1788)
Collared Aracari

Student Photos and Videos


John Pickering
Institute of Ecology
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602-2602

Room: 538 Biological Sciences Building
Phone: 706-542-1115

The course syllabus is a general plan for the course. Because of weather and other factors, the instructor may need to announce deviations to the class during the course.

Course objectives

Costa Rica has a rich treasure -- it's biodiversity. It is estimated to have 4% of the world's species in only .03% of the Earth's land area. Many species in Costa Rica are yet unexplored mysteries of nature, poorly known to science. Our goal is to help inventory and understand the flora and fauna of the San Luis field station and put it on the web. By so doing, we will help others to identify species and facilitate biological understanding in Costa Rica.

The course will teach nature photography, scientific illustration, field methods, specimen identification, and computer skills to share information via the web. Students will gain an understanding of the diversity of life in a tropical forest. They will be expected to make a well-documented electronic collection of 100 species with their cameras. Working in small teams, they will then build and illustrate local identificaton guides and web pages to target groups of plants, insects, and other living things that they have photographed.


Permission of department and to a desire to learn how to observe, photograph, and illustrate the natural environment. This course is primarily designed for students who have taken or are concurrently enrolled in ECOL 1000 or ECOL 1000H. It is also open to students who have an introductory college level science course such as BIOL 1103, BTNY 1210, or equivalent.

Honors students may register for ECOL 6110 instead of 4110.

Equipment, books, and supplies


The mission of the website Discover Life ( is to assemble and share knowledge in order to improve education, health, agriculture, economic development, and conservation throughout the world. It is putting high-quality identification guides, maps, images, and text to a million species on the web. Students will help to get the species in Costa Rica online.

Topical Outline

Field work involves risks that are not present in the classroom. Please make safety your utmost concern. Use common sense and do not take risks. Try to work with another individual when you are outside. Let others know where you are going, when you expect to return, and what they should do if you are late. If you spot a potential danger, such as a wasp nest, poisonous snake, or thorny-branch, make your classmates aware of it. Please tell the instructor if you have allergies, particualrly to bee stings, and bring your medicines. Avoid tickborne diseases by always checking yourselves for ticks after returning from the field. Even if you are a good swimmer, do not attempt to cross flooded streams. Don't accept candy from strangers... The list goes on. Use your head.

Academic honesty:
All academic work must meet the standards contained in "A Culture of Honesty." Students are responsible for informing themselves about those standards before performing any academic work. The link to more detailed information about academic honesty can be found at: This class is largely based on the honor system, including all web-based research and databasing completed by each student. You alone are responsible for learning all of the material and completing the assignments by the given due date.

Updated: 6 November, 2008

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