Costa Rica
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Science Study Topics for Costa Rica

Boasting incredible biodiversity and a forward-thinking nationwide sustainable energy plan, Costa Rica has excellent opportunities for budding scientists to engage in experiential learning, and see how science is of use outside the classroom. Biological field stations conduct cutting edge research whilst safeguarding ecosystems for future generations via conservation projects, and offer a range of relevant field work opportunities:

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Organisms & environment
Costa Rica is home to over 180 amphibian species, almost half of which can be found around Sarapiqui. Walk through the rainforest with a trained guide, visiting their habitats and learning about the natural history of the species and their interactions with the environment.
Evolution, adaptation & natural selection
Costa Rica’s amazing biodiversity can be attributed to its incredible geographic diversity; from high altitude cloudforest regions, to lowland tropical rainforests plus mangroves and some of the healthiest coral reef to be found in Central America. Compare organisms in the different environments and learn about their adaptations and evolution.
Ecosystems & relationships in ecosystems
Set atop the spine of Costa Rica’s continental divide, the cloudforests of Monteverde support a far-reaching ecosystem that harbours over 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, tens of thousands of insect species, and over 2,500 varieties of plants. Your guide will explain the complex relationships which support life in the cloudforest.
Biodiversity & sampling techniques
Compare biodiversity of different areas of rainforest by gathering data and samples about the plant composition and process your data for analysis, under the watchful eye of the tutors at a Biological Field Station.
Conservation & maintaining biodiversity
At Pacuare Giant Leatherback Turtle Reserve your students can play a hands-on role in assisting rangers with local conservation projects. Depending on the time of year you may witness either the nesting or hatching of turtles on the beach, whilst learning about the threats to the turtle population and conservation of the local rainforest.
Compare plants in rainforests, cloudforests, and mangroves and see how their adaptations are tailored towards optimizing photosynthesis. You’ll also learn about ecosystems and how all species depend on this process for life.
Bats represent almost 50% of the mammals in Costa Rica, whilst there are also over 200 amphibian species. Learn about the importance of classification in identifying and recording different species, and practice your skills!
Energy for biological processes
At the Biological Field Stations, use pyramids of biomass to learn about energy transfer through a food chain and the different trophic layers. Where does this energy come from, and where is it used?
Water resources
Compare the infrastructure required for water supply in Costa Rica with that in the UK. How does Costa Rica’s climate, size and water demands impact on this?
Rock cycle
Costa Rica sits above the collision point of two tectonic plates; the Cocos and Caribbean plates. The movement of these plates has created over 200 volcanoes, 6 of which are currently active. The country is also prone to earthquakes making Costa Rica a top choice when studying living with natural hazards.
Climate change & atmospheric science
Costa Rica is sensitive to climate change and has experienced increased rainfall and temperatures in recent decades. The government has a self-imposed goal of Costa Rica becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral country. It has increased rainforest coverage by 31% of its overall territory from 1983-2012, and plans targeting transport, agriculture and waste aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly.
Solar system
On clear nights, rural Costa Rica is a great place for star-gazing. Free from light pollution, the night sky becomes more detailed than many students can imagine, even to the naked eye. Depending on the time of year and your location, you may see planets, comets or meteor showers.
Seasons on earth
Due to its location in the tropics, Costas Rica has a different seasonal pattern than the UK. The temperature is consistent throughout most of the year, and seasons are characterised as ‘dry season’ or ‘wet season’ (also called the green season, due to the prolific plant growth in this period)
Costa Rica generated 99% of its electricity from renewable sources in 2015. Visit HEP and geothermal power stations to learn more about sustainable energy and how Costa Rica has successfully implemented a powerful drive towards renewable energy production.