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Clayton State Study Abroad Students Learn Biodiversity in the Rain Forests of Costa Rica

Clayton State Study Abroad Students Learn Biodiversity in the Rain Forests of Costa Rica

May 15 2015

Clayton State University Biology Division Coordinator and Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Paul Guy Melvin, is leading the Biology Department’s 2015 Study Abroad trip to Costa Rica. The following is his report of the trip’s first two days…

“After a safe arrival on Wednesday, the group spent the afternoon exploring central San Jose - Costa Rica's capital city. The students were all amazed that a short, four hour flight from Atlanta could bring them to such an exotic place!  

“On Thursday morning, we had an orientation session with our Costa Rican guide, Vanessa, who explained the details of our itinerary and how the program works. Then it was off to Turrialba, a beautiful town located in the mountains of the Caribbean slope of Costa Rica about a two hour drive from San Jose. Along the way, we discussed a variety of concepts that are important for understanding the biodiversity of Costa Rica, including how the climate of the tropics combined with the geography of Costa Rica combine to provide countless microenvironments which enable Costa Rica to hold 5 percent of the world's species. In addition, we discussed several comparisons and differences between Costa Rica and the United States and Georgia, giving the students a new prospective on the world. For example, the entire population of Costa Rica is less than metro Atlanta!

“One very important feature of rainforests was evident in abundance - rain! Our entire first day the skies were cloudy and rain fell off and on throughout the day. This obscured the beautiful mountain and volcano views we had hoped to enjoy on the drive from San Jose to Turriabla.  

“After arrival in Turriabla, we had a quick lunch, then checked in to our rooms at CATIE, a tropical research station/university that houses students and researchers from all over the world. Although the research interests at CATIE are too numerous to list here, some highlights are tropical agriculture, rainforest conservation, and community outreach. In the afternoon, we had a private guided tour of their botanical gardens, where there are countless examples of tropical plants, including important food plants, some of which we got to sample.

“After an early night Thursday, we were ready to hit the ground running early Friday morning for our visit to Guyabo National Monument and an ecologically minded dairy farm which is known for its efforts at sustainability.”  

You can follow the Costa Rica Study Abroad group on Twitter at, and on Instagram at

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