April 15, 2014
Engaging work in Panama
VCU Rice Rivers Center’s annual trip to Panama this year was a success. Sixteen graduate and undergraduate students from VCU’s Center for Environmental Studies joined Dr. Lesley Bulluck and Dr. Ed Crawford on a two-week research excursion to the tropics.
Their goal while in Panama was to monitor migratory and resident birds in black mangrove forests of varying condition in and around Panama City. One week was spent doing intensive field work in the mangroves, where students learned how to band and measure birds captured in mist nets. Also, data was collected on the birds’ foraging behaviors and condition as well as vegetation and soil characteristics throughout the sites. The students currently are finalizing their data analysis and plan to present their major findings at the VCU Rice Rivers Center Research symposium, to be held Friday, May 9.
The second week abroad involved traveling to more remote locations in Panama to explore cloud forests. This year was different because we were able to host four university students from the University of Panama and the International Maritime University of Panama throughout the entire experience in Panama. This is especially exciting because it is rare for these students to gain experience doing field work or traveling to places beyond the city where they live. This course provides VCU students with an intensive research and service-learning experience that has proven to be life-changing.