Project Overview

Role of plant functional traits in structuring epiphytic and terrestrial fern communities

Faculty Sponsor

Eddie Watkins (




The goal of this project is to understand the physiological and functional traits that have led to the successful radiation of ferns into the rainforest canopy.  Our tasks will be to 1) collect and cultivate ferns from spores, 2) set up a series of experiments to evaluate stress physiology in fern gametophytes, 3) generate pressure-volume curves in a field laboratory setting. Students will be expected to travel to Costa Rica and spend approximately one month in rustic biological stations with a joint research team between Colgate and the University of California, Santa Cruz. 

Student Qualifications

Interest in ecology and ecophysiology, botany, and dedication to plant identification are required. While not required, students that have taken Bio328 will be given priority. Students must be completely comfortable with heights, insects, spiders, heat, sweat, and life in a tropical country. Students are also expected to have a real curiosity about the natural world and be engaged members of the research team.  In addition to terrestrial sampling, students may be required to learn proper and safe tree climbing techniques to access species in the rainforest canopy.

Number of Student Researchers

3 students

Project Length

8 weeks

Applications open on 01/05/2018 and close on 02/05/2018

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If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (