Princeton Program: Tropical Biology in Panama
The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology offers a 'Semester in the Field' in Panama for juniors interested in intensively studying the ecology, evolutionary biology, anthropology, and conservation biology of the tropics. Over the years faculty and students alike have noted that learning both the principles and practice of ecology is best done via total immersion, especially when the setting is in the tropics.
We have chosen Panama as one of our New World tropical sites in part because of its diversity of habitats. A tiny land bridge between North and South America, the Isthmus of Panama is home to biodiversity disproportionate to its size. Panama’s terrestrial flora and fauna originates in two hemispheres. The country’s tropical waters astound researchers both for their vastly different biology and for their proximity—only 50 miles apart at Panama’s narrowest point.
Panama is also home to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), which has field stations, dormitories, classrooms and scientists that can help make our program a success. STRI’s nine research stations facilitate work in lowland tropical forest, cloud forest, coastal mangrove swamps and in both the Caribbean and the Pacific. The platform provides a singular opportunity to study the interactions of complex and varied organisms.