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Ecology of St. Croix

Location

Frederiksted, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

Program Description

Students will investigate and explore the unique island environment of St. Croix, a Caribbean Island with three distinct biomes, including desert on the east end of the island, and tropical forest on the west end of the island, with a mesophytic zone in the mid-portion of the island.

Students also will explore unique coastal life forms such as those found in the mangrove swamps, and on the reefs surrounding the island. Students will engage in vegetation sampling, studying animal populations, and analyzing interactions of climate and biology.

Opportunities permitting, students will engage in service learning working with public or private concerns involved in conservation projects on the island.

Students will examine unique aquatic life while snorkeling on the reefs. We will visit botanical gardens and learn about human uses of plants for commercial and medicinal uses. We will explore the cultural connections between the peoples that have inhabited the island and the uses of cultivated plants that supported their commerce.

Location Description

We will study in the unique environment of St. Croix, a Caribbean Island surrounded by reef. The island has tropical forest on the west end of the island, and a desert on the east end of the island. This unique distribution of biomes gives us an opportunity to study ecology and evolution in the field and explore a great variety of life forms on land and in the ocean.

St. Croix has a rich diversity of plant life ranging from endangered to invasive species. From cacti, to mangrove swamps, to commercial production of papaya and mango, there is a rich variety of plants adapted to island life. Similarly, from sea turtles, to skinks, to invasive lionfish, and bays with bioluminescent protists, there is a rich variety of animal life to explore.

We will be housed in cottages on a beach with ample opportunities to snorkel and explore the island reefs. Daily excursions will give us the opportunity to explore the variety of biomes and life forms that inhabit this Caribbean Island.

Director

Michael Renfroe | renfromh@jmu.edu | Biology

Accommodations

Students will be housed in small cohorts in ocean-side cottages with internet access and kitchen facilities. Laundry facilities are available (pay for use). Cottages are located on a beach within walking distance of Frederiksted on the west end of the island near the tropical forest. We will be right on the beach for convenient swimming/snorkeling with a direct view of tropical sunsets.

Students will be given a weekly food allowance and will be responsible for breakfast and lunch preparation. Most evening meals will be catered. One banquet meal with local performers will be included. Students should bring some extra meal money for trying local cuisine at specialty eateries and for personal snacks.

Additional Items to Consider

Phone service is considered domestic, so no foreign country code is required, just place calls as you would locally.

Passports and visas are not required, just a photo-id like a driver's license. However, a passport will facilitate getting through TSA and Customs checkspoints. You will pass through customs when coming home, so you will have to fill out a custom declarations form.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

Prerequisite: BIO 124 or BIO 250

Juniors or seniors preferred

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($25 fee)
  • Short Essay 
  • Interview with Program Director
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU students

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

apply now

Application Deadline

Dates


All dates are tentative and subject to change

Courses

BIO 427: Topics in Biology. Ecology of St. Croix (3 credits)

IDLS 391: Ecology of St. Croix (3 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.

Cost

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