Course Description

Course Name

Wildcats of Costa Rica

Session: VSJU1522

Hours & Credits

60 Contact Hours

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


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 content subject to change