The Bocas del Toro Biological Station is located on the north end of Isla Colón, Panama. Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation (ITEC) offers a variety of field courses.


Tropical Ethnobotany: Quantitative and Qualitative Methods

Over the past three decades, ethnobotany, the study of human-plant interactions, has evolved from a largely descriptive role into a more rigorous and cross-disciplinary science. Modern ethnobotany requires the integration of qualitative and qualitative methods drawn from both the natural and social sciences. Currently, there are astonishingly few academic institutions or programs that actively promote such an interdisciplinary agenda.

This course provides a foundation in important social and natural science concepts and methods in ethnobotany and, simultaneously, promotes learning through direct, practical experience with local communities in a tropical forest context.-
An interdisciplinary approach is well supported due to the complementary expertise of the two instructors – Dr. Hoffman is an ethnobotanist with extensive experience as a neotropical field botanist and Dr. Vougioukalou is an ethnobotanist with experience in tropical ethnobiology and expertise in social science methods.

In the first several weeks of the course, the class will spend mornings on field excursions or doing ‘hands?on’ group activities with plants and people.

Lectures will be held in the afternoons. Students will have the opportunity to collect and analyze primary data, and consult bibliographic resources from the Institute’s library or provided by the instructors.

During the final week of the course, more time will be spent on data?collection, analysis, and presentation of ethnobotanical projects undertaken by student teams and individuals.


Dr. Bruce Hoffan (Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity-Naturalis, National Herbarium of the Netherlands, Leiden University) (
Dr. Sonia Vougioukalou (University of Kent & Canterbury Christ Church University, S.A.) (