Round River began working in Costa Rica in 2016, in association with the organization Osa Conservation. Named by National Geographic as “the most biologically intense place on earth,” the Osa Peninsula is a true jewel of land, water, and life. Covering an area of just 700 square miles on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, the peninsula harbors 2.5 percent of the biodiversity of the entire planet. The forests, beaches, and mangrove wetlands of this peninsula are home to jaguar, puma, ocelot, Baird’s tapir, peccary, anteater, coati, spider and howler monkeys, four species of sea turtle, and almost 500 bird species.
Since 2003 Osa Conservation has worked with the mission of conserving the globally significant biological diversity of the Osa Peninsula. Through strategic land acquisitions, Osa Conservation maintains a matrix of what are essentially protected areas on the peninsula, providing forested corridors to allow wildlife movement through a patchwork of agricultural land, as well as to and from nearby Corcovado National Park.
Osa Conservation maintains field stations on their properties and manages long-term studies focused on wildlife (sea turtles, cats and other mammals) and stream health. Through native seed collection, a nursery at Osa Verde, and experimental reforestation, Osa Conservation is also spearheading a successful ecological restoration program to convert agricultural areas back into forests.
Round River students assist Osa Conservation in their efforts to monitor wildlife and restore habitat on the peninsula through such projects as sea turtle monitoring, stream surveys, camera trap surveys, and replanting deforested areas with native tree species. Read more below under “What to Expect.”
Round River’s main research camp is located at Piro (Osa Conservation’s main field station), uphill from Piro Beach and near the Piro River. This site is well situated and offers easy walking access to the beaches for turtle patrols, as well as proximity to Osa Conservation’s trail network through restored agricultural pastures and wetlands, secondary and primary forests for additional research projects. Another research camp is located at Lomas del Sierpe, an Osa Conservation property on the north end of Gulfo Dulce, adjacent to Piedras Blancas National Park. The group also spends time at remote field sites within the Osa Peninsula.
In 2017, students may have the opportunity to explore new field sites with Round River, spending most of the time on the Osa Peninsula but expanding out to other areas as well. Stay tuned for more details.
Students should be physically and mentally prepared for living in the tropics: hiking, backpacking, and camping while dealing with humidity, heat, rain, mosquitoes and other insects, and rough terrain. Students will be rewarded by the incredible natural beauty surrounding them, as well as the intense biodiversity for which the Osa Peninsula is renowned. And traveling to Costa Rica as a student with Round River will give you an enriching experience incomparable to traveling on your own or as a tourist.
Academics support our field research, and our instructors deliver lectures, lead field activities, and guide discussions throughout the program. Students can expect two to four lectures per week, along with readings, discussions, assignments and exams. At the end of the program, students analyze data collected and write a research report, followed by a presentation to project partners.
In addition to their fieldwork and academics, students will participate in experiential learning on the region’s ecological and cultural history with local researchers and residents.
Spanish language skills are strongly encouraged but not required; all lectures and field activities are conducted in English. Having even a basic understanding of Spanish will allow students to interact with the locals (including Osa Conservation staff and researchers), thereby enabling a stronger cultural exchange.