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La Suerte Biological Field Station (Established 1993)
Educational Program
Web Site:

Phone: 1 (305) 666-9932   Fax: 1 (305) 666-2681   E-Mail:
Near Cariari COSTA RICA
Affiliations: Maderas Rainforest Conservancy

Mission: The La Suerte Biological Field Station is located in northeastern Costa Rica in Central America. This lowland Neotropical region remains one of the most biologically diverse in the world. The field station encompasses 700 acres containing a wealth of habitats including primary and secondary forests, swamps, marshes and pasture. In addition, much of the property lies along the Rio La Suerte, a beautiful flowing river that empties into the Caribbean at Tortuguero National Park. The area is home to thousands of plant and insect species as well as hundreds of species of amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. The list of animals include three monkey species (white-face capuchins, mantled howlers and spiders), pacas and aguotis, keel-billed toucans, white-crowned parrots, strawberry poison-dart frogs, eyelash vipers and green iguanas. The Research Station and surrounding forests and farm were purchased by the Molina family in 1987. Since then the Molinas have been looking for ways to utilize their property, known as Finca La Suerte ("Lucky Farm" in Spanish), that would be ecologically responsible and preserve Costa Rica's rich natural heritage. The result is La Suerte Biological Field Station which is being developed exclusively for research, education, and conservation.; We have defined the following long-term goals for La Suerte Biological Field Station: 1. To offer field-oriented courses that are available to both undergraduate and graduate students. 2. Provide instruction on various field techniques in primatology and ecology, to think critically, and how to ask appropriate, testable questions about the environment. 3. Educate students from all parts of the globe about the need to protect and conserve tropical rainforests and the natural heritage of our planet. 4. Develop a plan for the protection and conservation of the fauna and flora of La Suerte Biological Field Station. 5. Inventory the plant, amphibian, reptilian, avian, and mammalian species present at the site. 6. Initiate long-term ecological projects on the flora and fauna.

Principal Research Programs: Behavior, ecology and conservation of white-faced capuchin monkeys (C"Cebus capucinus") and mantled howler monkeys ("Alouiatta palliata") Future programs include spider monkey conservation and a reintroduction program for captive and confiscated white-faced capuchins.

Training Opportunities: Program Dates: Summer classes offered every year since 1993: #1 May 25 to June 19, #2 June 22 to July 17, and #3 July 20 to Aug 14, Winter: Dec 27 to Jan 9 long term Dec 27 to Jan 18th. SPACES LEFT on all classes course costs

The Field School offers broad undergraduate and graduate training in Neotropical field ecology. Classes are limited to around 22 students. With one senior faculty and three graduate teaching assistants per course, the small class size insures an optimal student: faculty ratio of 1 to 5. Courses include primate ecology and behavior, rainforest ecology, ornithology and herpetology. Designed to be "classrooms in nature", these hands-on courses get students into the field, designing and conducting individualized research projects. In previous years, students at La Suerte have chosen to study a wide range of topics such as positional and feeding behavior of capuchin monkeys, plant diversity between artificial and natural forest gaps, inter- and intrasexual territoriality in northern jacanas, effects of ultraviolet radiation on leaf-breeding frog eggs, activity patterns and diet in giant bala ants, and attitudes in the local community toward conservation. Additionally, several long-term research projects are on-going at La Suerte that include primate behavior, poison-dart frog territoriality, ant distribution and abundance, and bird-mediated plant succession in pastures. Over 30 students who have taken our courses have continued on to graduate training in anthropology, primatology and ecology. Students in each class conduct supervised but individual research projects. In some cases, the quality of these projects has resulted in their presentation at national scientific meetings. We also hire graduate students as teaching faculty to assist in our field courses.

Financial Aid: Contact us for financial help suggestions.

Number of Staff: 15-20

Associated Field Sites: Ometepe Biological Field Station, Nicaragua

Comments: For more information, contact Renee Molina, Maderas Rainforest Conservancy, Executive Director and La Suerte Biological Field Station and Ometepe Biological Field Station, program Director (USA) , P.O. Box 55-7519, Miami, FL 33255-7519.

Last Updated: 2009-09-08

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