Wildcats of Costa Rica

Universidad Veritas

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Wildcats of Costa Rica

  • Host University

    Universidad Veritas

  • Location

    San José, Costa Rica

  • Area of Study

    Environmental Studies, Environmental Sustainability, Wildlife Biology

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Wild felids of Costa Rica

    Course Title: Wildcats of Costa Rica (Felids)
    Course code: ENV-3060
    Total contact hours: 60 hours
    Course description
    Due to its geographic positioning Costa Rica has a high diversity in mammals, the
    former as a result of the role played by this country as a biological bridge. Felines are an
    important part of this group, their importance is focused on the role they play as predators
    and therefore as controllers of energy flows in the ecosystems they inhabit.
    The objective of the course is to learn about the 6 species of wild cats found in Costa
    Rica, their natural history and the current challenges to ensure their conservation. The
    student will also be able to know different researches focused on feline conservation in the
    country. The contents of the program will be developed in conjunction with field trips so it
    has a high practical component.
    This course is structured for International Students attending the Study Abroad
    program at Universidad Veritas. However, courses are not exclusive to foreigners so a few
    native students could enroll in this course. Some of the courses are also taught in Spanish as
    part of our Bachelors in Sustainability Management.
    Students are only allowed a total of 2 nonconsecutive (back to back) absences. The
    student will fail the course if he/she has more than two absences. Students will have a 0 on
    any assignment evaluated in class (presentations, evaluations, field trips, etc.) if he/she is
    absent unless the student presents an official document no later than one week after the
    absence. If the student presents an authoritative report to excuse the absence, he/she must
    submit the missed assignment on that same day. An unjustified absence to a field trip will
    immediately mean losing all of the points assigned to the field trip. If an official document
    is presented for the field trip absence students will have to present a research assignment to
    obtain 50% of the points. The only exception to this rule is when two-course field sessions
    collide in programming. Students can then opt for doing a research assignment not to lose
    any points.

    Three late arrivals to class (15 minutes later) are treated as one absence. If you tend to
    be late for class, you will lose 25% of your total grade.

    Code of conduct
    Professors have the right to expel a student from the classroom should he / she:
     Be disruptive in the classroom.
     Behave in a disrespectful way.
     Be under the influence of alcohol or even smell like alcohol.
     Be under the influence of any illegal drug.
     Hygiene problems that may disturb other students.
    Electronic devices
    The use of cell phones, smart phones, or other mobile communication devices is
    disruptive, and is therefore prohibited during class. Please turn all devices OFF and put
    them away when class begins. Devices may be used ONLY when the professor assigns a
    specific activity and allows the use of devices for internet search or recording. Those who
    fail to comply with the rule must leave the classroom for the remainder of the class period.

    This course has a theoretical-practical approach and responds according to the
    professional profile to the following question:

    What is the importance of wild cats in Costa Rican ecosystems and what are the
    main threats they face today?

    In order to answer this question, this course will study the following:
     Evolutionary, taxonomic, anatomical, physiological and ecological knowledge of
    the wild cats of Costa Rica.
     General characteristics of the 6 wild felids species in Costa Rica and their status.
     Importance of wild cats in the ecosystems they inhabit.
     Current problems in relation to the conservation of felines as well as strategies and
    techniques to ensure the viability of their populations.
    Values and attitudes
     Teamwork and leadership
     Systemic thinking
     Logical and communicative intelligence
     Problem solving
     Learning how to learn
     Respect for nature and local communities


    Competencies Key competences Evidence of learning
    Discuss the current situation in the wild cats
    conservation processes in Costa Rica to
    understand their main conservation challenges
    considering the social and political reality

    Explain the acquired knowledge in
    ecological aspects related to wild cat
    species in Costa Rica

    Associates the social reality of the
    country with the development of different
    conservation processes related to wild

    Discusses the main challenges in the
    conservation of wild cats by analyzing
    and relating acquired knowledge with the
    social / political reality of the country and
    the region

    Oral presentation
    Thematic discussions
    Final research project

    Fieldtrip report
    Group presentation
    Round table

    Fieldtrip report
    Final research project
    Round table
    Group presentation

    Integrates knowledge, skills and attitudes to
    learn continuously and through one´s life
    pursuing an efficient development in the
    knowledge-based society.
    Learning to learn Final research project
    Builds the necessary knowledge, skills and
    attitudes to learn how to communicate orally
    and in written form in the different disciplines
    that make up the curriculum.
    Communicate thoughts of the discipline
    orally, iconically, and in written form.
    Thematic discussion
    Integrates the necessary knowledge, skills, and
    attitudes to learn teamwork and leadership
    Execute teamwork and leadership. Fieldtrips
    Fieldtrip report
    Integrates the necessary knowledge, skills and
    attitudes to learn interpersonal communication
    Relate well to others
    Manage and solve conflicts 
    Negotiate reliably and empathetically
    Speak responsibly
    Listen attentively
    Final research project
    Round table

    Unit I. Introduction to the wild
    1.1- Carnivora
    1.2- What is a felid?
    1.3- Biogeography of felids
    Unit II. Evolution and the
    Origin of Felidae
    2.1- Evolution
    2.2- Fossil record
    2.3- Phylogeny
    Unit III. Anatomy
    3.1- Adaptations to hunting
    3.2- Senses
    3.3- Bones and body proportions
    3.4- Teeth
    3.5- Paws and claws
    Unit IV. Diversity of wild
    felids in Costa Rica
    4.1- Biogeography and
    bioclimatic aspects of Costa
    4.2- Species of wild
    felids in Costa Rica and their
    Unit V. Ecology and behavior
    5.1- Reproduction
    5.2- Spatial ecology
    5.3- Ethology

    Unit VI. Tools and techniques
    for studying wild felids
    6.1- Study of wild felids
    as individuals
    6.2- Study of wild felids
    in biological communities
    6.3- Study of wild felids
    in populations and metapopulations
    6.4- Study of wild felids
    across landscapes and regions
    Unit VII. Management and
    conservation of wild felids
    7.1- Current situation
    7.2- Conflict jaguar-cattlehunter
    7.3- Anthropic impact
    7.4- Biological corridors
    7.5- Units conservation
    7.6- Conservation strategies

    It is recommended, but not required, that students complete a basic biology course
    prior to entering this course
    This course aims to develop the critical thinking of students around the environmental
    and social issues that are covered in the course contents through teacher-studentenvironment
    interaction. This methodology aims to confront the student with the solution
    of real current problems that allow him to acquire competencies that can be of help
    throughout his professional career.
    Classes will be taught twice a week on the campus of Veritas University, if necessary
    some classes will be taught during field trips. The fieldtrips will take place on weekends.
    Learning strategies
    The following learning strategies will be executed:
     Individual presentation: Students must prepare a presentation (power point) about
    an article that the teacher will send them. The presentation must not exceed 15
    minutes, knowledge, clarity, good use of time and order will be evaluated. All
    presentations must be made on the assigned date, if not the grade will be 0 (unless
    the absence is justified). The class will assign 30% of the grade and the professor
    will assign the remaining 70%.
     Group presentations: The students must prepare a presentation (power point) about
    a case study offered by the teacher, the topic should be developed around the
    perception acquired by the student around Costa Rica. Presentations will be made in
    groups assigned by the teacher and may not exceed 15 minutes. During the
    presentation, knowledge, clarity, good use of time and order will be evaluated. All
    presentations must be made on the assigned date, if not the grade will be 0 (unless
    the absence is justified). The class will assign 30% of the grade and the professor
    will assign the remaining 70%.
     Reports: Each student must submit a report after each of the fieldtrips made. In the
    reports, the following information should be detailed.
     Description and importance of the place visited
     Objectives of the tour
     Academic activities carried out
     Critical analysis of the panorama found
     Conclusions

    The reports must be sent via CANVAS in Word format (.doc / .docx) on the
    date and time requested by the teacher using APA format.
     Round table: There will be a round table where the experiences acquired by the
    students in relation to the felines in Costa Rica will be discussed, this dynamic will
    be developed in relation to the conservation challenges that this group of carnivores
    have. Students will be evaluated in response to their participation, clarity of ideas
    and respect.
     Final research project: At the end of the course, the students will present the results
    of a thorough investigation on the subject given at the beginning of the course, the
    presentation must be oral and written. The research must argue the results obtained,
    broad bibliographic reference, and, if possible, consult experts on their research
    topic. Written research project must be presented in the form of a scientific article
    using APA format which will be evaluated by the professor, this segment has a
    value of 50% of the final grade of the research project. The presentation (power
    point) must not exceed 15 minutes, knowledge, clarity, good use of time and order
    will be evaluated. All presentations must be made on the assigned date, if not the
    grade will be 0 (unless the absence is justified). The presentation will have a value
    of 50% which 25% will be evaluated by the teacher and 25% by the students.
     Fieldtrip evaluation: The fieldtrip will have a value within the final evaluation, the
    percentage of the tours in the evaluation will be divided into different aspects. The
    elements to be evaluated in each of the fieldtrips will be:
     Assistance
     Participation
     Puntuality
     Respect
     Follow instructions
    In addition to the above items, the student must use a field notebook in which
    they will record important information given by the teacher, charlistas or by
    members of the communities. The notebook will be reviewed by the teacher in the
    last week of the course.
    The fieldtrips are mandatory and participation in the tours has an important
    percentage in the final grade. There will be a total of 3 fieldtrips in different areas of Costa
    Rica. Field work might include volunteer work such as trail cleaning, late night monitoring
    species or long walks. The amenities in the tours (lodging, roads, internet access) may be of
    low quality in a few cases. The tours are composed of hiking trails, which is why it is
    necessary that the student has good physical condition. The areas to visit can be far away so
    it will be necessary to travel by land to destinations.
    In some cases, communities will be visited, which is why it is mandatory to respect
    the traditions, culture and beliefs of the people who live there.

    Educational resources
    In order to guarantee good development of the course, therefore to guarantee
    learning, the following resources are available: an updated bibliographic database,
    multimedia equipment that students can use for their individual presentations; whiteboards
    and other school equipment for weekly sessions, and readings provided by the educator. All
    of these complement the suggested projects and provide the students with higher
    possibilities of knowledge own ship. Most of the lessons will take place in the classroom.
    During independent work periods students will be able to attend the institution a
    campus library, study rooms, and computer labs are available for the students´ independent
    work time. Free Wi-Fi connection for students, educators, and staff is provided on campus,
    which gives students the possibility to work not only in the library or computer labs, but
    also around campus.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations


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