Biodiversity is a broad term that refers to all of the living organisms on Earth. Without each and every single living organism, our world would not operate as it does today. Each creature plays a huge role in the natural progression of the world. Studying biodiversity is an interesting approach to many different kinds of programs that are rich with information and topics that any student can fall in love with.
Does studying the vast biodiversity of other countries appeal to you? How about learning about other animals, landscapes, and wildlife that you may never have even heard of before? Or learning how every single one of these animals and living organisms work together to create the world that we live in? Studying biodiversity when you go overseas will broaden your knowledge of something that we experience on a day to day basis.
Looking to study the thousands of different living species in the ocean or other bodies of water? Then marine biology is for you! Marine biology offers a plethora of different organisms and species to study that will keep students learning something new every single day. Students may also study animals that have adapted to the marine environment. Picking a country with an abundance of marine life and coral reefs will make this an ideal area of study for you.
If studying both the natural environment and the human-influenced environment interests you, then consider looking for a program in environmental studies. Students will observe the interaction between humans and their natural environment. Choosing a program with an abundance of hands-on experience outdoors will make this a great study abroad option.
Wildlife conservation is an especially important field of study, since it seeks to ensure that there will be a safe and sustainable environment for wildlife for years to come. Students will look at the dangers to wildlife, including climate change, species extinction, deforestation, and over-exploitation. Choosing a country with certain endangered species or specific threats to the environment will be an ideal way to dive even deeper into this field of study.
When choosing a place to study biodiversity abroad, try looking for countries with more widespread diversity in its environments and landscapes! They will definitely make studying this topic more interesting and more informative.
Costa Rica has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world; between beaches, volcanoes, oceans, jungles, and rainforests, Costa Rica has it all. Each section of Costa Rica hosts hundreds of different species of plants and animals. Based on the country’s location, it has a tropical climate year round but many different microclimates because of different elevations. This makes it an ideal country to study biodiversity due to its wide variety of habitats.
New Zealand was one of the last lands in the world to be settled by humans due to its remote location. Thus, New Zealand hosted an incredibly large array of different plant and animal species. New Zealand has steep mountains, volcanoes, pristine beaches, and lush jungle, making it an incredible place to study biodiversity.
However, because of human inhabitation, much of New Zealand’s species have become extinct. Conservationists are working together to preserve these species, which may make this an interesting area of study for students wishing to go overseas to New Zealand.
Madagascar is one of the most popular places in the world to study biodiversity. After all, 90% of the wildlife and species that inhabits Madagascar are not found anywhere else in the world. Some ecologists refer to Madagascar as the 8th continent because of the abundance of different species and wildlife. Students studying in Madagascar will study flora and wildlife that is unique only to Madagascar, making it a once in a lifetime experience.
With its extremely diverse and exotic wildlife, Brazil is one of the best places to study biodiversity. Brazil is home to the biggest rainforest in the entire world, the Amazon rainforest, which spans across several countries in South America. The Amazon alone has over 300 billion trees and thousands of different animal and plant species combined. You’ll have the chance to apply your studies hands on in multiple different scenarios, whether it be biology, ecology, or zoology.
Spain is home to mountains, islands, beaches, and volcanoes. Because of Spain’s diverse climate, soil, and typography, many different types of flora and wildlife inhabit the country. Students can spend days studying the extreme diversity in the Canary Islands, as well as many of the other islands that surround Spain.
Panama is home to a central chain of mountains and hundreds of rivers that run through the country. Out of all of the countries in Central America, Panama has the greatest diversity, making it a rich place to study biodiversity. Because of Panama’s tropical climate, a wide variety of different plant species are able to flourish here.
The Galapagos Islands
Because the Galapagos islands consist of an archipelago of volcanic islands, they are home to a substantial amount of diverse species, allowing students to study hundreds of different endemic species. The Galapagos is spread between both the northern and southern hemisphere, making it even more of an interesting place to study.
This region of the continent of Africa hosts some of the most diverse countries in the entire continent. Many of these countries are home to the “Big Five": the lion, elephant, rhino, leopard, and buffalo. Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest peak in Africa, and Mount Kenya, the second tallest peak in Africa, sit in Eastern Africa. Lake Victoria, the world’s second largest freshwater lake, is also in Eastern Africa, and hosts a large amount of diverse species and wildlife. Students can choose between many different countries in Eastern Africa, such as Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and many more for their choice of study.
Health & Safety
Make sure you’re up to date on any necessary vaccinations before you go overseas. Talk to your health care provider to make sure you’re up to date and that you receive any specific vaccinations required for that country.
If you are traveling to an area with specific safety precautions, go to your government's website to get the latest update on areas to avoid and safety tips to keep in mind during your stay. Leave your valuables at home, and make copies of any important documents before departure -- especially your passport!
Is the weather going to be hot or cold? Dry or rainy? Once you know the specific season and common weather patterns of the country you’re going to, packing to adapt to that is necessary. You may need neutral colors if you’re going on safaris, or rain boots and a rain jacket if you’re in the jungle during rainy season, or warmer clothes if you’re hiking to steep altitudes with a cold climate.
Do you need any specific certifications? You may need to have certain certifications in different areas in order to physically study animal and plant life. For example, there's a possibility your program requires you to be SCUBA certified so you can study coral and marine life hands on if you're studying marine biology.
For longer periods of study, your school may put you up in a dorm or a homestay. If you have more than one choice, choose a housing option that best suits your goals. If you’re looking to meet other students in your program, living in a dorm may be the best option. If you’re looking for a more traditional approach, you may want to consider doing a homestay with a local family.
For shorter periods of study, your program may require you to arrange housing beforehand yourself, such as living in an apartment or a hotel. Your school will help you arrange the necessary housing before you arrive in your destination.
Contributed by Monica Grey
Biodiversity Study Abroad Programs
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